Port Elizabeth - A magnificent unbeaten century from Andrew Puttick put defending champions the Cape Cobras in control after the opening day of their domestic four-day match against the Warriors in Port Elizabeth on Thursday.
The veteran opener was not out on 159 -- his 20th career century -- after facing a marathon 325-balls as the visitors reached stumps on 324 for three.
Captain Justin Ontong also had a fantastic day with a flowing 87 coming from his bat after the Capetonians had won the toss and asked the hosts to bowl first at St. George's Park.
Omphile Ramela (30) helped Puttick put on a solid 79 for the first wicket, before the stand as ended when an attempted attacking shot by the former off Simon Harmer crashed back into the stumps.
Putick went to his 50 in 81 balls, before losing another partner in the in-form Stiaan van Zyl (17) -- the leading run scorer in the competition having a rare failure when he edged Harmer to Ashwell Prince at slip with the total on 120.
But it was then the Ontong-Puttick show. The pair put on 167 together in exactly 46 overs for the third wicket, including Puttick reaching his century from 218 balls shortly after the 200 was raised in the 64th over.
Ontong's 50 came in 65 balls and just as he looked poised to reach his own 100, he fell 13 runs short when he played at a slightly wide ball from Basheer Walters that flew to Prince, again at first slip.
It was 287 for three at that stage, and after Puttick crossed the 150 in 295 balls, Yaseen Vallie (18 not out) helped him negotiate the final overs to ensure the Cobras were in total control by the close.
Meanwhile in Kimberley, the table topping Highveld Lions needed a double strike by Hardus Viljoen late in the day to stay in contention against the Knights after a below-par showing with the bat.
After winning the toss and batting first, the Johannesburg outfit were dismissed for just 204 with most of those runs coming from Temba Bavuma, who was the last man out for 96.
All their other batsmen failed with home captain Johan van der Wath capturing three for 60 and the impeccable Quinton Friend collecting three for 22 from a fine 21 over spell.
In reply, Viljoen (2/29) struck early, before the Knights reached the close on 56 for two, still 148 runs adrift.
The day had started on the back foot for the visitors with the withdrawal of Alviro Petersen for personal reasons and they also lost two wickets in four balls to slip to nine for two.
But Bavuma anchored stands of 51 and 64 with Brett Pelser (21) and Zander de Bruyn (23) to take the total to 124 for three, before they lost the remaining seven wickets for 80 to be dismissed in 78.4 overs.
Viljoen then had the Knights at two for eight after taking out Dean Elgar and Reeza Hendricks for one apiece, before Rilee Rossouw (35) and Rudi Second (16) took them to the close.