Brisbane - Australia's pace attack sent South Africa captain Graeme Smith back to the pavilion but were otherwise held at bay as the tourists made 90-1 on the opening session of the first Test at the Gabba on Friday.
The Australians would have hoped to have made greater inroads into the South African order but the green-tinged wicket played well and Alviro Peterson, who had made 45, looked comfortable enough alongside Hashim Amla (29) at the break.
Seamer James Pattinson struggled to put pressure on the South Africans in his first spell but returned at the other end in the 10th over and had an immediate impact when he trapped Smith leg before wicket for 10.
Australia had already seen one appeal to the TV umpire fail but did not hesitate to go for a second when Pattinson's delivery caught the South African skipper's trailing leg as it hurtled towards the stumps.
Umpire Billy Bowden was not inclined to raise his characteristic crooked finger but the third umpire confirmed the dismissal to the delight of the home crowd.
South Africa, who won the toss and chose to bat, dropped spinner Imran Tahir and gave a debut to Rory Kleinveldt as part of a four-pronged pace attack.
Australia retained Nathan Lyon, however, and the off spinner was brought into action in the 16th over as the wicket and overcast conditions failed to bring the sort of swing and movement off the pitch the seamers had hoped for.
Lyon made a reasonable start but a soaring six from Amla, the world's top ranked Test batsman, made something of statement in the spinners' third over.
Petersen at the other end punished anything short but loose with some fine pull shots off the back foot and chanced his arm, and lost his shoe, with an extraordinary reverse sweep off Lyon for two runs.
The pair brought up their 50 partnership in just under an hour and eased comfortably to the lunch break.
South Africa's number one test ranking is on the line in the series, which continues with matches in Adelaide and Perth after Brisbane. - Reuters