Johannesburg - Cobras captain Justin Ontong led the way for his team with a century as the visitors reached 322 for seven on day one of their domestic four-day match against the Lions at the Wanderers on Thursday.
Ontong scored 119 from 206 balls, including 13 fours, in a 259-minute stay at the crease as the Cobras sought to defend their title in the final game of the season.
Ontong also kept his name in the running for leading run-scorer in the competition as he reached 927 runs, six behind teammate Stiaan van Zyl.
Earlier, Kagiso Rabada picked up the first wicket, that of Andrew Puttick. for 30 with the left-hander playing on to leave the visitors on 44 for one.
Van Zyl fell cheaply as he was out for five off the bowling of Brett Pelser, caught in the slips by Devon Conway.
Omphile Ramela (19) was the second victim for Pelser as he also played on as the Cobras fell to 62 for three.
Yaseen Vallie (51) and Ontong then combined for a 128-run fourth-wicket partnership off 212 balls. Hardus Viljoen struck to remove Vallie, bowled, as the Lions picked up their fourth with the Cobras on 190 for four.
Ontong later brought up his third century of the season, on this occasion off 184 balls with a cut shot behind square for four.
Dane Vilas (70) and Ontong put on 95 for the fifth wicket, before Ontong fell.
Ontong was out as he edged a Viljoen delivery down the legside, leaving the Cobras on 285 for five.
Rabada returned for one last spell and took the wickets of Justin Kemp (1) and Shaheen Khan (7), as the Lions staged a late fightback.
Rabada ended with figures of 3/38 in 16.4 overs.
At the close of play, Vilas and Dane Piedt (3) were unbeaten in the middle.
In Bloemfontein, Divan van Wyk scored a majestic 128 to lead the Dolphins to 305 for two against the Knights at stumps.
Van Wyk shared in a 169-run opening stand with Imraan Khan (83), before Malusi Siboto provided the breakthrough. Van Wyk was out, caught Reeza Hendricks, bowled Siboto.
The Knights again would have a long wait before they claimed another scalp as Khan and Khaya Zondo (71) put on 118 for the second wicket.
Khan was out caught behind off the bowling of Duanne Olivier as the Dolphins lost their second wicket on 287.
Zondo and Cody Chetty (14) were unbeaten at the close of play.
In Centurion, the Titans reached 268 for six at the close of play against the Warriors.
Theunis de Bruyn top-scored for the Titans with 79, with contributions coming from Henry Davids (60), Grant Thompson (40) and Cobus Pienaar (48).
Pienaar and David Wiese (6) were at the crease at stumps.
The pick of the bowlers for the Warriors was Basheeru-Deen Walters with 3/36 in 18 overs.