Compared to their recent batting performances, it was an improvement by the Titans, who were made to grind by an impressive Knights attack that stuck to their lines and generally succeeded in strangling the home side.
Roelof van der Merwe (87) and Mangaliso Mosehle (42) managed to break free from the stranglehold after lunch, adding 95 for the fifth wicket in 83 minutes, off 123 balls, and David Wiese (24 not out) and Shaun von Berg (32) then showed courage and skill to fend off the second new ball as they added 63 for the seventh wicket.
Von Berg fell just one ball before the umpires took the players off the field for bad light, fending a nasty lifter from Friend to leg-slip.
That gave Friend, who is the fourth-highest wicket-taker in the franchise era (204 @ 24.11), excellent figures of four for 55 in 19 overs at stumps.
Van der Merwe played the innings of the day as he continued his remarkable transformation as a batsman. Previously considered a spinner who could slog – often comically – down the order, the Bulldog has scored five of his 11 Sunfoil Series half-centuries this season and has been the Titans’ best batsman.
He was promoted to number four for this innings and responded with a textbook knock that featured several marvellous punches through the covers. But having gone to a career-best 87 in 136 minutes off just 91 balls, he then failed to press home the advantage.
Friend returned after an early tea break had been taken due to a passing rain shower, and immediately bowled three full, wide deliveries at Van der Merwe, who swung vigorously at all of them. The first was edged over the slips for his 13th boundary, the second was missed and the third he edged to wicketkeeper Rudi Second.
Five overs later, Corne Dry accounted for Mosehle, caught in the gully, but his 42 was a welcome return to form for the talented wicketkeeper/batsman.
The Titans had slipped from 183 for four to 205 for six, but Wiese and Von Berg dug in manfully, needing 141 deliveries for their 50 partnership.
The Titans had won the toss and elected to bat first, with conditions not offering a huge amount for the Knights bowlers, but they managed to make the first session really tough for the batsmen.
Easterns talent Ernest Kemm scored just three in his first innings at the higher level before edging a pull and being caught behind off Friend, while both Heino Kuhn (37 in two hours) and Henry Davids (8 in 70 minutes) would pay the price for trying to break the shackles and fall to fine catches, by Gerhardt Abrahams off spinner Werner Coetsee and Second off Johan van der Wath respectively.