Soweto - The Highveld Lions put the disappointments of last season behind them when they beat the Titans by four runs at the Dobsonville Cricket Club, Soweto, on Friday to retain the eKasi Challenge Trophy.
The match of fluctuating fortunes had an appropriate finish, going right down to the last over which started with the Titans needing 13 for victory with two wickets in hand.
In the end Heinrich Klaasen needed to hit a six off the last delivery from Dwaine Pretorius to tie the match but it was not to be as the Lions seamer held his nerve.
The Lions won the toss and posted a highly competitive total of 258/7 thanks in the main to an excellent innings of 78 not out (73 balls, seven fours and two sixes) from Man of the Match, Devon Conway.
The Lions had 80/1 at one stage but then lost four wickets for 43 runs before Conway reconstructed the innings with good support from Pretorius (32 off 37 balls, 4 fours).
Crucially, Conway scored 19 of the 20 runs in the final over (a six, three fours and a single off the five balls he faced) to give the Lions an important momentum swing at the interval.
They then had the Titans in dreadful trouble at 28/3 in the 11th over with Heino Kuhn also having retired hurt with a finger injury.
Captain Farhaan Behardien (60 off 76 balls, 7 fours) and David Wiese (94 off 102 balls, 8 fours) then put the chase back on track with their fourth wicket partnership of 113 in 21 overs but they got out at just the wrong time.
The pitch with its uneven bounce, extreme grip for the spinners and slowness, posed problems for the batsmen throughout the day and the task proved beyond the lower order.
Hardus Viljoen (1/29 in 10 overs) was the stand-out bowler for the Lions while Eden Links had the excellent return of 4/35, also in 10, for the Titans.