Adelaide: A fired-up Australia skittled South Africa's top order late on the fourth day to march to the threshold of victory in the second Test on Sunday.
Set a mammoth 430 for victory, the tourists' chase began disastrously, captain Graeme Smith out for a duck with the sixth ball of the innings and three more wickets tumbling quickly in the afternoon heat at Adelaide Oval.
Wicketkeeper batsman AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis dug in for more than an hour and a half, but South Africa staggered to 77-4 at the close, 353 runs adrift of their target.
De Villiers was on 12 and Du Plessis on 19, with injured Jacques Kallis the last specialist batsman in the Proteas' dressing room.
South Africa assistant coach Russell Domingo conceded a draw was the best they could hope for. "Definitely, yeah ... We know that 370 on the last day, four wickets down is probably out of the window," he told reporters.
"The target is far away, but they're still out there. There's every possibility that something special could happen, so there's an opportunity for someone to make a major play for his country."
South Africa's hopes may again rest on all-rounder Kallis, who battled a hamstring strain to score a half-century in the first innings and help the tourists avoid the follow-on.
With Smith and No. 3 Hashim Amla out before tea, Jacques Rudolph and opener Alviro Petersen resumed at 40-2 but their partnership lasted only five more runs before spinner Nathan Lyon claimed his second wicket of the innings.