Cape Town - Powerful half-centuries by Rassie van der Dussen and Reeza Hendricks ultimately proved too good for the Titans as the Highveld Lions closed the gap at the top of the CSA T20 Challenge table with an impressive 19-run derby win in Johannesburg on Thursday.
The pair shared a competition record second-wicket stand that yielded 151 and helped set the hosts on their way to a massive 181 for four after losing the toss and being asked to bat first at the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium.
On the day that the pair received contrasting news in their bid to make the Standard Bank Proteas squad for the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup, Van der Dussen celebrated his inclusion by pulverising 85 off 47 balls (6 fours, 3 sixes).
His partner Hendricks was not as fortunate, missing out on the trip to the 2019 finals, but his response was one of character in the wake of his disappointment as he plundered 77 off 61 balls (6 fours, 2 sixes).
It left the Titans needing their highest score in the fixture to win the game and they fell well short thanks to some good bowling by Nono Pongolo (3/29) and excellent all-round support from the home attack.
Theunis de Bruyn's 42 was the best effort for the Titans as they remained fourth on the table, with the Lions holding on to second by closing the gap on leaders the Cape Cobras to just three points at half way.
Enoch Nkwe's charges impressed from the outset thanks to the marathon second-wicket stand that broke the previous second-wicket record of 145 jointly held by Hashim Amla and Stiaan van Zyl for the Cobras against the Lions (2013/14) as well as Morne van Wyk and Kevin Pietersen for the Dolphins against the Warriors (2016/17).
Junior Dala impressed with the ball for the reigning champions by ending with three for 33.
The Titans lost Tony de Zorzi (5) and Henry Davids (18) inside the opening 4.2 overs, but De Bruyn and Diego Rosier (23), one of their form players this season, took the score to 91 for two in the 10th to leave the game finely poised.
But the impressive Aaron Phangiso (2/26) struck, followed by further blows from Pongolo as the visitors began to sink.
And they failed to recover from slipping to 105 for five, eventually falling to a second loss in five games.