South Africa's Anrich Nortje celebrates taking the wicket of England's Joe Denly with team-mates during day 3 of the second Test against England at Newlands on Sunday. Photo: Mike Hutchings/Reuters

CAPE TOWN – England resorted to old-fashioned five-day cricket to grind away at South Africa, but Proteas paceman Anrich Nortje struck an important blow just before tea on the third day of the second Test at Newlands on Sunday.

Visiting opener Dom Sibley and No 3 Joe Denly tried to frustrate the Proteas bowlers with a hard-fought second-wicket partnership of 73 that dragged on for than 30 overs, and England were looking strong after going past the hundred mark and a lead of 140 runs.

But Nortje, who never stopped trying as he rumbled in from the Wynberg End, finally got the wicket that his team so desperately needed in the 44th over.

The 26-year-old from the Eastern Cape stopped the speed gun at 150km/h for two consecutive deliveries, which Denly (31) was unable to score from, and then the third ball at 145km/h saw the right-hander go for a pull, only to find Dwaine Pretorius, who took a good diving catch at fine leg.

It was the breakthrough that the Proteas had toiled hard for on an unforgiving Newlands pitch that has flattened out and gave little assistance to the bowlers.

Left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj bowled 15 overs from the Kelvin Grove End without reward (0/34), while Nortje ended the session with 1/24 in 10 fiery overs.

Vernon Philander conceded a miserly seven runs in nine overs, while Pretorius only got two overs.

Sibley finished on 44 not out off 130 balls (7x4), and he had England captain Joe Root alongside him on seven as England went to tea on 109/2.

With a lead of 155 runs and eight wickets in hand, the visitors are well on top at the moment, and the South Africans will need to make further inroads before the second new ball becomes available – which may only happen early on Monday.

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