Australia faces a mammoth task to win the third Test after South Africa stretched its second innings to 8-250 - an overall lead of 283, on day three at the Wanderers in Johannesburg.
A pitch of increasingly variable bounce and turn will ensure the Australian batsmen, including first-innings casualty Justin Langer, have a difficult fourth-innings assignment as they strive to complete a 3-0 clean sweep of the series.
Stuart Clark (4-64), Shane Warne (3-83) and Brett Lee (1-52) shared South Africa's eight second-innings wickets, while Herschelle Gibbs (53), Jacques Kallis (27), Shaun Pollock (40), Mark Boucher (55no) and Andre Nel (18no) provided the resistance.
Warne bowled unchanged from lunch, wheeling through 25 well-controlled overs.
South Africa's lead was only 227 when it slipped to 8-194, but Boucher, who cracked eight boundaries and faced 81 balls, and Nel needed only 12.1 overs to add an invaluable 56 in their unfinished ninth-wicket partnership until bad light ended the third day's play.
Earlier, AB de Villiers (9) did not offer a shot to the fourth ball of Clark's second over and was bowled, and Boeta Dippenaar (20) was caught spectacularly by Matthew Hayden, diving to his left in the gully, after slicing a drive in Clark's sixth over.
South Africa went to lunch at 2-83 off 20 overs - a lead of 116.
Michael Kasprowicz had bowled only two overs before leaving the field because of lower-back soreness, and he did not return.
Gibbs looked in ominous touch, hammering a six and six fours in his 87-ball hand, until he slapped a Warne full toss to Damien Martyn at mid-on in the ninth over after lunch.
Ashwell Prince (9) was given out caught at leg slip by Andrew Symonds off Warne, then Clark swooped again to trap Kallis lbw pushing well forward and he had Jacques Rudolph (0) caught by wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist off a bottom edge.
South Africa had lost 4-40 in 13.5 overs to plunge from 2-100 to 6-140.
Pollock's 47-ball stay ended when he skied an ambitious pull of a short one from Lee and was caught by Gilchrist in front of the slips cordon in the eighth over after tea.
Nicky Boje (4) departed three overs later, pulling Warne to forward square leg where Symonds plucked a sharp, low catch - and then came the Boucher-Nel stand.
Australia had resumed its first innings at 7-246 and lost 2-24 in 4.3 overs, and Langer did not bat because he had been concussed when struck on the helmet by Makhaya Ntini's first ball of the innings.
Kasprowicz (2) guided a short ball from Pollock to Gibbs in the gully and the innings ended five balls later on 270 - 33 runs behind South Africa - when Lee, having advanced from his overnight 45 to 64, drove Ntini high to Boje at deep mid-off - giving Ntini the grand figures of 6-100 off 18.5 overs.