Perth – Australia's overhauled pace attack mauled South Africa with five wickets in the hour around the lunch break to leave the tourists floundering at 141/7 at tea on the opening day of the third and final Test of the series on Friday.
Seamers Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson and debutant John Hastings as well as all rounder Shane Watson all got amongst the wickets to leave South Africa perhaps ruing the decision to bat first on a bouncy Waca track.
Spinner Nathan Lyon pitched in by dismissing Robin Peterson caught behind for 31 just before tea to break up a partnership of 57 with Faf du Plessis, who will resume on 39 after the break alongside Vernon Philander (4).
As well as the series honours, the number one ranking in Test cricket is on the line in the match with the hosts needing a win to return to the summit of the game and the tourists requiring a draw to retain the title.
Watson, who missed the two drawn tests in Brisbane and Adelaide with a calf injury, made the first breakthrough with 38 runs on the board when he had Graeme Smith caught in the slips by Michael Clarke for 16.
The South Africans looked like they might just survive until lunch, albeit with a modest total, before the intervention of left-arm quick Starc.
Two full, late-swinging deliveries in six balls fooled first opener Alviro Petersen (30) and then all rounder Jacques Kallis (2) and ripped through the gate to make a mess of the stumps.
There was to be no respite after lunch and Hashim Amla had already been dropped by Ed Cowan when he was run out by David Warner's direct hit from point without adding to his tally of 11.
Cowan's spill at midwicket deprived Hastings of his first test wicket but the bowler did not have to wait long to finally claim it as a bank of cloud moved across the ground to block out the sunshine.
Called into the side after Ben Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle were rested after running themselves into the ground in Adelaide, Hastings found some late movement to have AB de Villiers caught by Clarke for four.
South Africa were now well and truly on the rack at 67/5 and it soon got even worse when Mitchell Johnson finally got some reward for his hostile swing bowling.
The sometimes erratic 2009 ICC World Player of Year has struggled with form and fitness in the year since his last test but he proved once again he is a fearsome prospect at the Waca.
Dean Elgar's first test innings lasted just 18 minutes and 12 balls before he caught a top edge with an attempted pull off Johnson and Matthew Wade took an easy catch behind the stumps.
Du Plessis, who scored an acclaimed century on debut to help save the Adelaide test, was again forced to dig in along with Peterson, who was called up for his first test in four years to replace Imran Tahir as the team's specialist spinner. – Reuters