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Olivier snares 11 as Knights regain top spot

File photo: Duanne Olivier's career-best match haul of 11 for 149 lifted Knights to the top of the table Gallo Images

South Africa's newest Test cap Duanne Olivier's 11-wicket match haul helped Knights regain the top spot in the Sunfoil Series, with a 121-run win over Warriors in Bloemfontein. Olivier also remains the leading wicket-taker in the competition, 13 ahead of his nearest challenger, team-mate Marchant de Lange, who took five wickets in the match.

The pace pair's performance came after Knights piled on 431 in the first innings, built on Rudi Second's 151. Second, who is also a keeper, now lies fifth on the run-charts and has put himself in prime position to travel as a reserve glovesman, should South Africa take one to New Zealand. Second and Rilee Rossouw shared a third-wicket stand of 118. Rossouw scored 83, but Simon Harmer's 4 for 90 ensured Knights did not top 500.

In reply, Warriors were in trouble at 159 for 7. A 119-run eighth-wicket stand between Harmer and Sisanda Magala saved them from the follow-on. Both batsmen scored half-centuries, before Olivier removed them. Oliver and de Lange shared all 10 wickets in Warriors' first innings, which ended on 299.

After taking a 132-run lead, Knights were sloppy in the second innings and lost wickets frequently. Second top-scored with 37 as Knights were bowled out for 189, setting Warriors a gettable target of 322 with more than a day remaining. Warriors closed out the third day on 73 for 3, 249 runs behind, but the target proved too big. With only Lesiba Ngoepe crossing 50, Warriors were bowled out for 200. Despite the loss, they remain in contention for the title in fourth position, 14.58 points behind table-toppers Knights.

In Centurion, Cobras' stirring second-half-of-the-season comeback continued as they beat Titansby nine wickets. The victory has lifted them from last place and put them ahead of Lions, and they are 16.52 points behind Knights.

Titans chose to bat first and were looking solid after openers Aiden Markram and Dean Elgar put on 86. Both batsmen were dismissed off consecutive balls by Tsepo Moreki, which triggered a collapse. From 86 for no loss, Titans lost all 10 wickets for 109 runs to be dismissed for 195. Heinrich Klaasen brought some respectability to the scorecard with 52. Wickets were shared among all four of Cobras' frontliners, with Moreki the most successful with 3 for 37.

Cobras' replay began with Rowan Richards dismissing the openers cheaply before David Wiese got rid of Stiaan van Zyl to leave Cobras on 37 for 3. But a combination of old and new put them in a position to take the advantage. Justin Ontong and Jason Smith put on 148 for the fourth wicket. Ontong brought up his 25th first-class century, and when he was dismissed, Cobras were well ahead on 285 for 6. They added 41 more for the last four wickets. Wiese claimed a five-for, but could not prevent Cobras from taking a 131-run first innings lead.

Markram and Heino Kuhn, who opened in the second innings, started well again and shared a 61-run partnership, but Titans' top-order collapsed for the second time as they lost five wickets for 30 runs. Klaasen again scored a half-century, and it saved them from an innings defeat, but only just. Rory Kleinveldt rolled back the years and finished with 5 for 45 as Titans were bowled out for 168. It left Cobras with just 38 to win, which they did with nine wickets in hand.