After South Africa survived the second new ball and a dropped catch and overturned an lbw decision, AB de Villiers got out shortly before tea.
It was a desperate breakthrough for England who immediately took the new ball when it became available after 8o overs. While if offered some good bounce at times, the South Africans never seemed too troubled by it and survived for almost 14 overs before De Villiers departed.
He was probably undone by the extra bounce as he pulled a Steven Finn delivery straight to James Anderson at mid-wicket for 88. It brought to an end a marvellous 183-run partnership between him Amla (132 not out), who reached his 24th Test century after lunch and also reached 7 000 Test runs in the process.
On 290-3 South Africa are still 339 runs behind England’s total of 629, but at least their best two batsmen have got some crucial runs on the board.
If England don’t win this Test they will be kicking themselves for the opportunities they let slip through their fingers on day three.
Amla was dropped before lunch on 76 and again before tea on 120. Nick Compton couldn’t hold on to the simplest of catches again off Finn’s bowling and only time will tell how much runs those two chances will cost them.
De Villiers was dropped yesterday on five and successfully overturned a lbw decision against him this time around. He immediately referred the decision and replays showed faint inside edge saved him. If not for that he would have been out.
In another sign that 2016 could be a much better one for the Test side, South Africa passed 250 for the first time in a year. It just shows what a good wicket this is to bat on.
Faf du Plessis (15 not out) edged his first delivery through the slip cordon for four, but played a beautiful pull shot and a straight drive for four. Runs next to his name is the next box to tick as he and Amla aim to bat out the final session.
If that happens, it will have been a brilliant day for South Africa in their quest to save this Test and stay in the series.
For ball-by-ball commentary click below: