Pieter Malan walked off unbeaten on 63* at stumps as South Africa managed to reach a steady 126/2 in pursuit of a record 438 chase.
England put South Africa to the sword
The day got off to the worst possible start for South Africa who picked up the key wicket of Joe Root before dismissing nightwatchman Dom Bess in the last few minutes of Sunday afternoons third session.
However, Dom Sibley carried on where he left off as he continued to play each ball on merit while on the other end, Ben Stokes preceded to take the South Africa attack apart.
Sibley swiftly moved to his maiden century with his previous best score being just 29 while Stokes continued to take on every bowler Faf du Plessis could throw at him.
It was eventually Keshav Maharaj who managed to bring an end to the fireworks as Stokes was caught in the deep by Rassie van der Dussen for a brisk 72 (48).
Ollie Pope could not follow up on his first innings exploits as he was dismissed for just three, bowled by Kagiso Rabada.
Jos Buttler and Sam Curran both looked to accelerate the run-rate but struggled to get going as they fell for 23 (18) and 13 (15) respectively.
With the lead well over 400, Root eventually put South Africa out of their misery as he called Sibley and Broad back to the changeroom with a lead of 438.
South Africa build a platform
With a daunting task ahead and recent history of poor starts, Dean Elgar and Malan strode to the crease with the English bowlers barking at their heels.
Despite recent history, both openers got off to very solid starts as they brought up the first 50 run opening partnership in over a year.
With England starting to look a bit weary of the partnership, Denly beat Elgar’s bat with Buttler taking a catch behind before all the England players went up for the caught-behind with Paul Reiffel obliging with a raised finger.
Elgar went up for the review before Reiffel had even finished dismissing him and replays showed the faintest of edges which would become the topic of debate for the rest of the day given the contact Elgar made with his pad with his elbow at the same time.
Nevertheless, the decision stood and Malan was joined by Zubayr Hamza.
What then ensued was a classic exhibition of test match battles at its best as Hamza and Malan continued to frustrate the England attack before Stokes and Hamza enjoyed a solid few overs of hostile body line bowling. Malan looked right at home with very few deliveries bothering him as he brought up his maiden half-century characterized by a player who is very settled within his playing style.
With early signs of reverse swing in the air, Root turned to James Anderson in the final half-hour and with just 15 minutes left on the clock, he managed to find the edge of Hamza who departed for a patient 18 off 59 balls.
Maharaj joined Malan at the crease as a night watchman and managed to see off the rest of the days play with South Africa ending on 126/2 with a mammoth 312 runs remaining and a difficult 90 overs of play waiting for them on day five.