Pretoria - A 205-run second wicket partnership between David Warner and Alex Doolan compounded the misery for South Africa, as Australia reached 288 for three, a lead of 479, at stumps on day three of the first Test at SuperSport Park, in Centurion, on Friday.
The partnership came off 275 balls, and was allowed to blossom as Warner was dropped three times before tea.
Together with the debutant Doolan , the pair scored quickly as the Proteas attack wilted under the siege of the Aussie batsmen.
Warner finally departed for 115 from 151 balls, caught Graeme Smith at first slip off the bowling of Robin Peterson as Australia lost their second wicket on 206.
Doolan was next to depart, slashing at a JP Duminy delivery well-outside off and was caught behind by AB de Villiers with Australia on 243 for three. He made 89 off154 balls.
Unbeaten at the close of play were Shaun Marsh (44) and captain Michael Clarke (17). The duo had put 45 for the fourth wicket when play was called for the day.
Duminy had the best figures for the Proteas, albeit from four overs, with 1/12.
Before tea, Warner was dropped twice in the space of two overs. With Australia on 37 for one, and the batsman on 26, he top-edged a Vernon Philander bouncer to substitute fielder Dean Elgar who dropped the catch at fine leg after making good ground.
Morne Morkel then induced a flashing edge from Warner, on 27, which went above head height to Alviro Petersen at second slip. He got his hands to it but was unable to hold on to the catch.
Warner reached 51 before he was dropped for the third time. This time Smith dropped a sharp chance at first slip, off Ryan McLaren, as the Aussie batsman was given yet another reprieve.
With his score on 64, the 27-year-old passed the 2000-run mark in Tests.
The Proteas, however, struck early in the innings. Australian opener Chris Rogers was out played-on from Dale Steyn, as Australia lost their first wicket with just a single run on the board.
Earlier, South Africa were bowled out before lunch for 206 as Australia secured a 191 run lead in the first innings.
Mitchell Johnson was the chief destroyer for the Aussies, picking up 7/68.
De Villiers, 91 off 148 balls, was the lone batsman for South Africa to cash in as the next best was Duminy's 25.
Johnson picked up three wickets for 18 runs in the morning as the hosts added 66 runs to their overnight total of 140 for six.
South Africa had safely negotiated their way past the follow-on target of 197 when top-scorer De Villiers departed, giving Johnson his sixth wicket.
After the previous ball was hit through the covers for four, the aggressive batsman failed to clear Warner at mid-off who took a leaping catch.
Johnson's five-wicket haul came off his fourth delivery of the day when he had Peterson (10) trying to dodge out the way, but instead gave a comfortable catch to captain Michael Clarke in the slips.
After a partnership of 49 off 74 balls between De Villiers and Philander, Aussie spinner Nathan Lyon made the breakthrough dismissing Philander for 15.
Johnson mopped up, getting rid of Morkel for a duck to complete his seven-wicket haul.