The Proteas are well-placed after day one of the second Test against England at Newlands having reduced the visitors to 262/9 at stumps.
Despite having gone into the match without the injured Jofra Archer (elbow) and Rory Burns (ankle), England skipper Joe Root would have expected more from his charges after winning the toss and opting to bat first on a Cape Town wicket that looked dry and flat.
An inability to convert starts into real scores of substance proved to be England’s downfall with Dom Sibley (34), Joe Denley (38), Root (35), Ben Stokes (47) and Jos Butler (29) all getting themselves in without going on.
It will be extremely frustrating from an England point of view, but it was also reward for a South African attack that was largely accurate and consistent throughout the day.
Ollie Pope’s 56* proved to be crucial for the English.
There was not the assistance for the seamers that there was at Centurion for the first Test and it meant that the bowlers had to work harder for their rewards, but they picked up wickets at regular intervals and whenever England had two set batsmen at the crease.
Keshav Maharaj (1/68) got through 27 overs on the day – indicative of the fact that this was not a traditional Newlands strip – while Kagiso Rabada (2/63 in 18), Vernon Philander (2/46 in 16), Dwaine Pretorius (2/26 in 11) and speedster Anrich Nortje (2/54 in 17) were superb once more as a collective.
It was Philander who got the first breakthrough in his final Test at Newlands with the last ball of his second over, drawing an edge from Test rookie Zak Crawley (4) with a vintage outswinger that just nibbled off the surface through to Quinton de Kock.
A 55-run partnership between Sibley and Denly followed, but Rabada got South Africa’s second as Sibley edged through to De Kock, who took a neat diving catch to his right behind the stumps.
That brought Root to the wicket, who got busy immediately. He scored 35 of a 42-run stand with Denly for the third-wicket and looked in ominous touch, but again he threw away a start after a Nortje bouncer blew him away as he gloved through to De Kock.
The celebrations between De Kock and Rassie van der Dussen were comical, with the latter having dropped Root at first slip in the same over.
Maharaj then bowled a well-set Denly with a ball that just straightened slightly on its way through the gate between bat and pad, and at 127/4 England needed to consolidate once more.
That recovery came in the form of Stokes and Pope, who shared 59 for the fifth wicket before Stokes gave his wicket away by driving a harmless delivery from Nortje straight to Dean Elgar at cover.
A fired-up Pretorius then got through Butler and Sam Curran (9) quickly, with Curran leaving a delivery that was angling back in and knocked his off-stump flying out of the ground.
Philander, with the first delivery with the second new ball, had spinner Dominic Bess (0) caught behind for what would be De Kock’s fifth catch of the innings while Stuart Broad (1) had no answer to a fierce Rabada yorker that went through him to cannon into the stumps.
At that stage, England had lost their last four wickets for just 13 runs as the Proteas roared into control of the game.
Pope, though, was not going anywhere and he went to his second half-century in just his fifth Test match to give the visitors valuable runs towards the end of the day in the form of an undefeated 28-run stand with James Anderson (3*) for the last wicket.
He looked to be out when he came down the track and hooked Rabada to Philander at fine leg, but replays showed that Rabada had bowled a massive no-ball.