David Warner’s seventh format century and a dogged fifty from Michael Clarke justified the latter’s decision to bat first in the deciding Test with top-ranked South Africa at Cape Town.
Warner was his typically attacking self in making 135, his second ton of the three-game series, but Clarke had to endure a working over from Morne Morkel to close on a patient 92 in a score of 331 for three.
Clarke surviving Morkel’s painful peppering benefited the tourists all the more given premier paceman Dale Steyn left the field for the day during the afternoon session with soreness in his right hamstring.
Once Warner was caught behind off JP Duminy shortly after tea, Steven Smith supported his skipper with an unbeaten fifty.
Both teams, who are level at 1-1 in the series, showed two changes. For the Proteas Alviro Petersen and Kyle Abbott replaced Quinton de Kock and Wayne Parnell. For Australia Shane Watson and James Pattinson came in for Shaun Marsh and Peter Siddle.
Warner and Chris Rogers combined for eight fours in the first six overs before settling into a stand of 65 that Steyn broke by having Rogers held at first slip.
Alex Doolan dug in for an alliance worth 73 until miscuing a pull at Vernon Philander and being caught at wide mid-on.
Graeme Smith shelled opposite number Clarke at slip on 26 shortly before Duminy struck to remove Warner, who hit 12 fours and a six, and end a 79-run partnership.
Smith struck six fours, including taking Philander for three in an over, and a maximum while Clarke found the boundary nine times.