Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent
It's all happening in Pool B where victories for the Dolphins and the Lions in this round means just 3.52 points separate the three sides. Each of the teams has won two matches and the standings in the group have been completely overturned from when the Knights led the pool at the end of the second round.
The Dolphins are now on top after a five-wicket win over the Knights, who lost their second successive fixture away from home. On a spicy Durban deck, Daryn Dupavillon took 7 for 38 as the Knights were shot out for 116 to start the match on the back foot. The Dolphins were 52 for 4 in response but 73 from Grant Roelofsen, who shared in a 63-run stand with Khaya Zondo, helped them build a 137-run first innings lead.
The Knights fared better in their second innings, led by Matthew Kleinveldt's 77 and a 101-run second-wicket partnership between him and Raynard van Tonder. But Dupavillon still stalked them and took 4 for 66. The Knights were bowled out for 213 leaving the Dolphins with a victory target of 77. They lost half their line-up on the way there but won with a day to spare.
After a win at home last week, the Lions traveled to Port Elizabeth where they established control early and quickly over the Warriors. Half-centuries from Ryan Rickelton and Wiaan Mulder and a century from Wesley Marshall saw them total 389 at a rate of almost four runs an over. While the Warriors bowlers had a tough time, Basheer Walters claimed 5 for 61.
In reply, only the Warriors opener Eddie Moore managed a score more than 20 runs as the Lions dismissed the hosts for 118 and needed only four bowlers to do it. Sisanda Magala led the pack with 3 for 37.
With a 271-run first innings lead and two-and-a-half days to play, the Lions had the luxury of time to bat the Warriors out of the match. Rickleton and Marshall were in the runs again and Mulder brought up his fifth first-class hundred as the Lions declared on 241 for 5, setting the Warriors 513 to win. Improbable as it may sound, the Warriors very nearly got there thanks to Rudi Second's 171 and fifties from Yaseen Vallie and Lesiba Ngoepe. The Lions needed all their frontline bowlers and then some, and used seven in total, to bowl the Warriors out for 436 and win by 76 runs. Magala finished the match with six wickets.
The Warriors' third defeat leaves them at the bottom of Pool A, 1.2 points behind the Cobras, who remain winless. They drew against the table-topping Titans, in Centurion.
The Cobras would have fancied their chances of getting their first victory after piling on 411 in their first innings. Pieter Malan scored 125, while Aviwe Mgijima's 86 firmed up the middle order as Thando Ntini took 3 for 66. The Titans would not be shown up on home turf and responded with 440. Aiden Markram and Neil Brand scored hundreds and put on 178 for the second wicket. Luckily for the Cobras, Calvin Savage's 5 for 77 ensured the Titans didn't get much more.
The Cobras' second innings started nine overs before the end of the third day, leaving them with very little time to set the Titans a target. They batted until tea on the fourth day before the teams shook hands on the draw.
On the national radar
Markram's third hundred in three innings has taken him to the top of the run-charts and must have secured him a Test recall. Markram averages 78.16 from seven innings so far and though Malan scored 182 over his two innings in this round and sits in sixth place, its difficult to see how Markram won't be first-choice. He may even have done enough to enter the captaincy conversation, which would leave Malan and second-placed Sarel Erwee to wonder if they might displace Dean Elgar. After starting the season with scores of 101, 58, and 66, Elgar has just 35 runs from his last four innings. Given his experience, Elgar is unlikely to go anywhere this summer, but South Africa will want consistency from him which should keep other openers interested.
The same may not be said for the way the selectors feel about Theunis de Bruyn. His century in the first week put him back in the national conversation but three ducks and 48 runs from his next five innings will likely see him serving more time in franchise cricket for now. The same will apply to Zubayr Hamza, who has not managed a single half-century in the competition so far. He was out for 26 this time.
From a bowling perspective, Dupavillon may have forced his way into red-ball contention with his 11 for 104 while Magala (6 for 115 in this match) has entered the top 10 wicket-takers' list and could also be considered. Gerald Coetzee (4 for 51) and Thando Ntini (5 for 92) are also progressing well.
Mulder's form is also noteworthy, especially as the national team continue to look for allrounders. Mulder is batting at No.5 but has not bowled much in the competition so far as he continues to work his way back from injury. He took 1 for 47 in 13 overs in the Warriors second innings.
Dupavillon aside, the Dolphins owe some of their victory to Senuran Muthusamy, who took 5 for 60 in the match against the Knights, and continues to open the batting for the franchise. Muthusamy is third on the wicket-taker's list with 16 at an average of 14.31 and is the leading spinner in the competition. Knights' quick Migael Pretorius and Warriors' left-armer Marco Jansen jointly occupy the top spot with 17 wickets each and may be pushing for places in the South African A side soon.
Big runs from Brand and Second are also worth a mention. In Brand's case, the runs add depth to a Titans team that will lose players to international duty while Second provides the experience so many franchises lack and will doubtless be invaluable to the Warriors' youngsters.
Daryn DupavillonGrant RoelofsenMatthew KleinveldtRyan RickeltonWiaan MulderWesley MarshallBasheeru-Deen WaltersSisanda MagalaRudi SecondYaseen VallieLesiba NgoepePieter MalanAviwe MgijimaThando NtiniAiden MarkramNeil BrandCalvin SavageDean ElgarSenuran MuthusamyMigael PretoriusMarco JansenCape CobrasWarriorsTitansLionsKnightsDolphinsSouth AfricaLIONS vs WarriorsKnights vs DolphinsCape Cobras vs Titans4-Day Franchise Series