Brisbane: Centuries from Jacques Kallis and Hashim Amla put Australia on the ropes before South Africa's bowlers landed some early blows of their own to leave the hosts struggling at 111 for three after the third day of the first Test on Sunday.
The visitors were reduced to 10 fit batsmen after an injury to JP Duminy on Friday but 147 from the evergreen Kallis and 104 from the in-form Amla helped them to an imposing first innings tally of 450.
Their much vaunted pace attack took over just after tea and, finding movement on the Gabba track that had evaded the Australians, removed opener David Warner (4), debutant Rob Quiney (9) and Ricky Ponting (0) in quick succession.
Ed Cowan, who finished the day 49 not out, and captain Michael Clarke, unbeaten on 34, restored some stability to the Australia innings with a stand of 71 before stumps were drawn but South Africa still have high hopes of a win.
"If we can nip out a couple tomorrow morning and put some real pressure on Australia, who knows?" Kallis told reporters.
"I think we've just got to give ourselves an opportunity, I think the game's far from dead. There's enough in the wicket as well. As long as we keep applying the pressure, that's all that we can do."