Cobras, Knights in command
Alistair Gray (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - The Cape Cobras and the Knights put themselves in strong positions to secure victories in the opening round of the domestic first-class competition, taking control on the third day of their respective Sunfoil Series matches on Saturday.
Full scorecard: Lions v Cobras
Full scorecard: Knights v Titans
The Cobras took a firm grip as the Highveld Lions were left fighting for a draw at stumps in Potchefstroom.
Forced to follow in their second innings, the Lions reached 162/3 at the close of play, needing another 171 runs to make the visitors bat again on the final day.
Quinton de Kock, who shared a fighting 125-run stand for the third wicket with veteran Neil McKenzie, was unbeaten on 94 runs when stumps were drawn.
McKenzie, who made 54, was trapped leg-before by spin bowler Dane Piedt in the penultimate over of the day.
The Lions had earlier resumed their first innings at 70/1 in the morning session, and while opener Stephen Cook made 52, the rest of the top order struggled to build momentum after getting starts.
Cobras spinner Alistair Gray returned 3/38 as the hosts were bundled out for 210 - a full 333 runs shy of the visiting team's first innings total.
Meanwhile, in Kimberley, the Knights took control, taking a 288-run lead with six wickets in hand in their second innings against title holders the Titans.
Reeza Hendricks, who made 53, and Dean Elgar, who added 44, combined in a 96-run opening partnership.
And while Titans spinner Paul Harris removed them both, bagging 3/42 from his 20 overs, the home side reached 133/4 to put themselves in the driving seat.
Earlier, the Knights' front-line seam pair of Quinton Friend and Ryan McLaren had torn through the Titans attack, each taking five scalps as the visiting side were dismissed for 300 in their first innings, and were left trailing by 155 runs.
Middle-order batsman Heino Kuhn, who was at the crease but had yet to get off the mark in the morning session, carried the Titans after they resumed their first innings at 131/3.
Kuhn held his bat through the remainder of the innings, reaching an unbeaten 78 off 150 balls.
Roelof van der Merwe contributed 54 in a 108-run stand with Kuhn for the sixth wicket, but the rest of the order crumbled as Friend and McLaren took control.
McLaren returned 5/57 and Friend took 5/77 to share all the wickets between them.