Van der Wath helps Knights to first win
A career-best 154 and a match tally of five wickets by Johan van der Wath helped Knights secure an eight-wicket win in Bloemfontein, their first in the competition. The Dolphins put on a better batting performance in their second innings, but could only manage to set a target of 115, which the Knights chased easily.
The Knights did a good job keeping the Dolphins to 221 on the opening day after winning the toss. The seamers, Van der wath, Dillon du Preez and Malusi Siboto shared the wickets, with Siboto taking 4 for 37. The main batsmen failed, and it was up to the lower-order duo of Kyle Abbott and Calvin Savage to add 65 to take the score past 200. The Knights were in a spot of bother on the second day at 108 for 6, before Werner Coetsee and van der Wath compiled the highest partnership of the match. Their stand of 161 was the turning point, as it set up a healthy first-innings lead for the Knights. After Coetsee departed for 69, van der Wath got useful support from the lower order. Shadley van Schalwyk frustrated Dolphins with 80 at No.10 and there was no respite either from the No.11 Siboto, who scored 41 to stretch the lead to 277. Van der Wath smashed 19 fours and three sixes in his 154.
The Dolphins showed better resistance in the second innings, with half-centuries by Imraan Khan, Khayelihle Zondo, Daryn Smit and Abbott. The Dolphins were under pressure to save the game when they ended the penultimate day 25 behind with five wickets in hand. The lower order put on three successive fifty partnerships to keep Knights at bay, but were bowled out for 391. The Knights knocked off the required runs in under 30 overs and remained in third place.
A seven-wicket haul by the seamer Ayabulela Gqamane sent Lions crashing to 59, helping the Warriors come back from an 80-run first-innings deficit, setting up a ten-wicket win at the Wanderers. Gqamane's career-best 7 for 24 swung the game Warriors' way and the game was over after lunch on day three.
The Lions chose to bat and ended the opening day at 275 for 7, with the captain Stephen Cook scoring 95, Neil McKenzie 50 and Thami Tsolekile unbeaten on 64. Gqamane took 4 for 46, while Andrew Birch took 4 for 68 to bowl out the Lions for 315. Tsolekile remained unbeaten on 88.
The Lions spinners, Imran Tahir and Edie Leie, jolted the Warriors top order to reduce them to 118 for 5. Christiaan Jonker and Simon Harmer added 81 for the sixth wicket before Zander de Bruyn wrapped up the innings for 235, giving the Lions a lead of 80. What followed was a stunning turnaround as Gqamane ran through the line-up in 10.4 overs to finish with his maiden ten-wicket haul. Only two batsmen passed double figures in the second innings.
It left Warriors chasing 140, and they sailed home thanks to the opening pair of Davy Jacobs (84*) and Michael Price (49*).
Cape Cobras retained their position at the top of the table with a ten-wicket win over Titans at Newlands in a three-day finish. Put in to bat, the Titans were rolled over for 192 on the opening day with Justin Kemp taking 5 for 45. The Titans were struggling at 47 for 5 before David Wiese and Roelof van der Merwe scored half-centuries. The Cobras openers, Andrew Puttick and Alistair Gray nearly matched the Titans' first-innings score on their own. Their stand of 169 set the platform for a big score, and the second-wicket pair of Puttick and Stiaan van Zyl took the game further away from the Titans with a stand of 120. Puttick managed a century, but van Zyl and Gray fell short, scoring 91 and 84 respectively. Qaasim Adams and the lower order then took the score to 476 for 8 before the declaration, giving the Cobras a healthy lead of 284.
There was more trouble for the Titans at the end of the second day, losing two early wickets in the face of a huge deficit. In the third morning, things got worse when Pieter Malan edged Johann Louw to third slip. Heino Kuhn and Jacques Rudolph resisted with fifties. Louw broke their stand of 88 and dismissed the pair to finish with 5 for 89. Beuran Hendricks took 4 for 73 as the Titans finished on 301 leaving the Cobras just 18 to chase.