MANCHESTER - Inconsistent bounce and balls shooting out of the rough, gave the South Africans an indication of the challenges they will face when the bat in the fourth innings of this final Test.
England went to tea on day three, on 138/6, their lead - given the nature of the pitch - an already substantial 274 runs.
With the dark clouds closing in - rain has been forecast for Sunday evening - England's patient progress as they built on the advantage they earned with the ball on Saturday.
Jonny Bairstow, who made 99 in the first innings was unbeaten on 0 and Moeen Ali had 4 at the interval.
South Africa picked up three wickets in the session, starting with the eighth ball which the hapless Keaton Jennings edged to first slip where Hashim Amla grabbed an easy catch.
It was an awful shot from Jennings, with his captain Joe Root watching from the other end as he threw the bat a short ball, that was too close for him to cut.
Jennings, who was also dropped when he had nought, made 18, raising his aggregate for the series to 127 runs.
His average is 15.88 in the four Tests with a highest score of 48. Whether he will be in the side for the Tests against the West Indies in two weeks time remains to be seen.
No one has really jumped up screaming to be picked. In a County Championship match for Lancashire on Sunday afternoon, Haseeb Hameed, one of the main candidates to replace Jennings, only made 6.
South Africa’s bowlers courageously made breakthroughs at regular intervals throughout the session, with Duanne Olivier the star.
He picked up two big wickets in what was arguably his best spell for the Proteas, accounting Root, with one that kept low and which the England skipper edged onto his stumps.
Root scored 49, and actually looked the best of the England batsmen.
Ben Stokes struggled, particularly against Keshav Maharaj who regularly got the ball playing tricks out of the rough.
Stokes then tried to attack Olivier, and was dropped by a hobbling Heino Kuhn at short midwicket, playing a powerful pull, he then edged one into a gap in the slips for four and two ball after doing so, edge another into the bread-basket of South African captain Faf du Plessis.
In between those dismissals Dawid Malan was caught at short-leg off an inside edge onto his pads by Theunis De Bruyn off the bowling of Maharaj.
Olivier’s spell: 4-3-8-2, was an excellent and disciplined effort which will undoubtedly build his confidence.