Johannesburg: Australia was bowled out for 296 under an onslaught from South Africa paceman Dale Steyn on Saturday, throwing away a dominant position on day two of the second test at Wanderers. (Agencies)
Australia faded after a 174-run opening partnership from Shane Watson and Phillip Hughes had given the tourists early control of a match they must win to save a two-test series in which they trail 1-0.
Australia added just 122 more runs after the stand between Watson (88) and Hughes (88) was finally broken to hold a first-innings lead of 30 when it looked set for a much bigger advantage.
Steyn took 4-64 and Pakistan-born leg spinner Imran Tahir 3-55 for his first test wickets to drag Australia back into the game after Watson and Hughes had hammered South Africa's famed pace attack in the morning session.
South Africa had to face an uncomfortable few minutes before stumps was called, with Graeme Smith blocking out four balls before bad light ended another topsy-turvy day in a rollercoaster series.
"I know it's disappointing," Hughes said. "Once you get in you want to cash in as a batsman but we have been seeing clumps (of wickets) fall.
"It was good to get runs and it was good to have that partnership with Shane ... but disappointing for both of us not to cash in and get a big 150."
Only Mitchell Johnson showed prolonged resistance after Watson and Hughes exited, hitting six fours in his unbeaten 38 from No 8 to ensure Australia pushed ahead but only just.
"The boys are pretty stoked about that," Steyn said, "because we were staring down the barrel at one stage with them being 170-odd without loss and we needed a big push by the bowlers. The guys definitely stepped up and did it."
Australia has won its last four series in South Africa and hasn't lost a test contest here since 1970. It now has to start again on Friday after South Africa's afternoon burst brought the teams level again.
"You always want more but we've got a little bit of confidence going in with that 30 run lead behind us, we have got to start well tomorrow," Hughes said.
Much like the dramatic and rapid opening test at Cape Town which ended inside three days wickets have tumbled in sudden spells in the second match and it has swung one way and then the other.
Johannesburg: Australia was bowled out for 296 under an onslaught from South Africa paceman Dale Steyn on Saturday, throwing away a dominant position on day two of the second test at Wanderers.