Hendricks, Coetsee give Knights important win
In a match pitting the sides placed first and second on the points table, Knights defeated Cobras by five wickets to narrow the gap at the top to less than five points, leaving the fate of the Sunfoil Series on a knife's edge with two rounds of games left to play.
The match turned in the third innings, when Cobras, who had taken a 17-run first-innings lead, were bundled out for 92, with offspinner Werner Coetsee, the Knights captain, taking four wickets to finish with seven for the match. Medium-pacers Quinton Friend and Malusi Siboto, meanwhile, took three wickets apiece.
Chasing 110, Knights lost five wickets, but three of their top four passed 20 and Rudi Second remained unbeaten on 19 to see them home in the company of Coetsee.
Till Cobras' third-innings collapse, the match had been tightly poised. Having chosen to bat at the Diamond Oval, Kimberley, Cobras were reeling at 10 for 3 before Justin Ontong and Yaseen Vallie steadied their innings with a fourth-wicket partnership of 116. Wickets kept falling after Vallie was out for 50, but Ontong fought on to remain unbeaten on 142 when Cobras lost their last wicket with their score 247. Ontong faced 239 balls and struck 18 fours and a six. Friend took four wickets, including those of both openers, while Coetsee took three.
Knights' first innings followed a similar pattern, with one batsman accounting for over half of their total. Opener Reeza Hendricks scored 123, out of a total of 230, striking 14 fours and a six in his 329-ball innings. No other batsman came close to that contribution, with Gihahn Cloete scoring 23 and Rudi Second making 24. Offspinner Dane Piedt took five wickets, conceding just 30 runs in 27.3 overs, while medium-pacer Dane Paterson took four.
Right-arm seamer Andrew Birch took nine wickets as Warriors beat Lions by 174 runs in Port Elizabeth. Birch took five wickets in the first innings to help Warriors gain a 118-run first-innings lead as Lions, having conceded 284 after choosing to bowl first, were bowled out for 166.
Half-centuries from David White, Colin Ackermann and Colin Ingram helped Warriors put the match more or less beyond Lions' reach, declaring on 349 for 9 to set a target of 468. With Birch taking four wickets, Lions were bowled out for 293. They were 115 for 6 at one stage, but Cliffe Deacon scored an unbeaten 122-ball 96 to take them close to the 300 mark.
The left-handed Deacon shared stands of 59 with Pumelela Matshikwe for the ninth wicket and 30 with last man Alviro Petersen, who was batting at No. 11 after suffering an injury on the third day. When Theron trapped Petersen in front to end the match, Deacon was left four runs short of a second first-class century.
Deacon had begun the match with a four-wicket haul in the first innings. With new-ball partner Hardus Viljoen in similarly wicket-taking mood, Warriors were 18 for 3 and then 91 for 4 before Ryan Bailey and Jon-Jon Smuts put on 86 for the fifth wicket. Bailey finished unbeaten on 102 as Warriors were all out for 284, with Viljoen picking up six wickets.
The match between Titans and Dolphins in Benoni, meanwhile, was abandoned without a ball bowled.