Johannesburg - Jonathan Vandiar made 59 not out as he and captain Neil McKenzie shared an unbeaten third wicket stand of 66 to take the Highveld Lions to 139 for two in their second innings at close of play on the third day of their Supersport Series match against the Diamond Eagles at the Wanderers on Saturday.
The Lions had an overall lead of 170, with eight wickets in hand, and appeared to have wrested control back from the Eagles.
After getting themselves into a strong position at the end of the second day, finishing on 195 for two in reply to the Lions' 368, the Eagles suffered an early collapse on Saturday morning.
Dean Elgar and Boeta Dippenaar, who had been in the process of developing a very valuable third wicket partnership, both fell within seven balls.
Elgar, who must have had a nervous night, after going to bed on 97, added just one run before flicking at a Cliffie Deacon delivery, with Thami Tsolekile making no mistake with the catch. The partnership, which lasted a little over three hours, was worth 147 runs.
In the next over, Pumelela Matshikwe got rid of Dippenaar, who was caught behind by Tsolekile for 68, and the Eagles' innings began to fall to pieces.
Ryan Bailey kept his end up with some sound batting, but kept losing his partners. At one stage, it appeared he might even run out of partners before reaching a well-deserved 19th first class century.
Morne van Wyk made 19 runs in an hour before lofting a Monty Panesar delivery straight to Matshikwe at mid-on. Con de Lange stayed just over an hour for his 13, before being caught by Tsolekile off Zander de Bruyn.
Thandi Tshabalala, Dillon du Preez, and CJ de Villiers all came and went, and it was Deacon who finally brought the Eagles' innings to a close when De Bruyn took a superb catch off Deacon to dismiss Bailey for 66.
The Eagles were all out for 337, 40 minutes after lunch, trailing the Lions by 31.
The Lions seemed reluctant to add to their first innings total, facing 29 deliveries before a square cut from Stephen Cook off Du Preez raced to the boundary to open their second account.
De Villiers achieved the first breakthrough, when he bowled Grant Mokoena for six. Stephen Cook batted for just over two hours before he edged a delivery from Vries into Morne van Wyk's safe hands for 32.
Vandiar and McKenzie came together with the score on 73 for two. Vandiar moved slowly to his fifth first class 50, although he reached the milestone by hitting Bailey for six, and then did the same to Tshabalala in the next over to bring up the 50 partnership. His half century took him two and a half hours and came off 85 balls.