A counter-attacking rearguard half century by Robbie Frylinck helped rescue the Dolphins from trouble on day one of their Sunfoil Series encounter against the Cobras in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday.
The big all-rounder was still batting on 63 (68 balls, 4 fours, 3 sixes) when bad light ended play just after tea and his side on 282 for nine at the City Oval.
Frylinck was one of two half-centurions for the hosts, with the other being Dane Vilas, who smashed 70 off 76 balls (12 fours).
But the Dolphins will be ruing not making the most of batting first after they won the toss.
They were in trouble from the outset when Morne van Wyk (0) fell in the second over and then lost wickets in clusters.
After reaching 55 for one, Sarel Erwee (20), Khaya Zondo (4) and Vaughn van Jaarsveld (44) fell in quick succession to leave them on 75 for four.
Senuran Muthusamy (34) then helped Vilas rebuild, but shortly after a 76-run fifth wicket stand, they slipped from 151 for four to 207 for eight.
It left Frylinck to pick up the pieces and he added 62 with Rabian Engelbrecht (20) for the ninth wicket, before the latter fell just after tea when bad light was about to set in and end the day almost 30 overs short.
Dane Paterson finished as the pick of the bowlers with three for 57, while Tshepo Moreki (2/70) and Dane Piedt (2/74) grabbed two wickets each.
In East London Gihahn Cloete led a Warriors fightback against the Titans and continued what has been an excellent first class season for the opener.
Cloete saw his side slip to 21/2 when Proteas Chris Morris and Junior Dala removed Eddie Moore (12) and Colin Ackermann (0) cheaply.
Yaseen Vallie provided some middle-order spine with an unbeaten 68 and a 126 run stand with Cloete.
Vallie and Jon-Jon Smuts (36*) rebuilt the innings again when Cloete and Lesiba Ngoepe (3) fell in quick succession.
The Warriors would end day one 0n 203/4 in the 66 overs bowled.
In Kimberley the Lions are in all sorts of trouble having slipped to 159 for 8 in the face of some excellent pace bowling from the Knights.
The central franchise saw each of their four frontline seamers bag two wickets apiece as the visitors struggled having been put into bat.
Only Rassie van der Dussen (42) and Dwaine Pretorius (42*) managed more than twenty with the Knights determined to close the gap on the table topping Titans.
Marchant de Lange (2/48), Duanne Olivier (2/47), Mbulelo Budaza (2/32) and Shadley van Schalkwyk (2/26) gave the visitors no respite on a tough opening day to leave the Knights well poised to continue their title push.