The Free State Knights’ impressive pace attack neutered the KZN Dolphins batsmen and clinched a seven-run victory in the CSA Provincial T20 Knockout Cup final in Kimberley on Friday.

Having been sent in to bat, Free State posted a strong total of 176 for five thanks to opener Patrick Kruger’s anchoring half-century and the powerful strokeplay of Pite van Biljon, Farhaan Behardien and Rilee Rossouw.

The Knights pacemen then took regular wickets as they restricted KZN to 169 for six.

Fast bowler Migael Pretorius (4-0-30-3) struck in the first over by bowling Protea Keegan Petersen for two and he then removed Bryce Parsons (35) and Ruan de Swardt first ball in the penultimate over to all but seal victory for Allan Donald’s team.

Alfred Mothoa (4-1-27-2) provided superb support as he trapped Marques Ackerman lbw for 11 in the third over and then claimed the big wicket of Sarel Erwee for 27 midway through the innings.

Khaya Zondo teared his way to 43 off 28 balls but was then caught behind off seamer Neulan van Heerden, a new face to top-level domestic cricket who nevertheless stepped up in the final with one for 24 in his four overs.

Jason Smith (36* off 23) launched a last-ditch effort to get KZN over the line, but had too much to do.

The Knights struggled to 37 for two inside the powerplay, the imposing figure of Rossouw, very much the alpha male in the Free State batting line-up, departing off the last ball of the sixth over for 28 off 18 balls.

But skipper Van Biljon stepped up with a commanding 42 off 25 balls, clearing the boundary three times, and Kruger played sensibly as he batted through to the penultimate over, scoring a vital 61 off 53 deliveries.

Behardien delivered his usual finishing brilliance with 29 not out off 18 balls.

The Dolphins attack were too dependent on their two fast bowlers – Daryn Dupavillon (4-0-24-2) and Ottneil Baartman (4-0-24-0) – with the other bowlers conceding 124 runs in their 12 overs.

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