Aussies on top despite collapse

Australia ended the third day of the second Test against South Africa in a familiar position, with the in-form duo of Michael Clarke and Mike Hussey at the crease.

Unlike in recent times though, the pair had the job of stabilising things rather than making hay, seeing the Baggy Green through to 111 for five at stumps, an overall lead of 273.

Such an advantage could prove to be enough on its own for Australia to take the Test but, having wracked up 550 in their first innings - Clarke making 230 and Hussey 103 - and taken five South African wickets for 17 in the morning session, they will have hoped for better.

It had looked like being another Australian run fest when they eased out to 77 without loss, but when David Warner (41) found cover off the bowling of Rory Kleinveldt, a mini collapse began.

The luckless Rob Quiney was next in, returning to the pavilion just two balls later with an unwanted pair on debut, getting cramped up by Kleinveldt and edging to AB de Villiers behind the stumps.

Ed Cowan was next man out, with Kleinveldt (three for 14) finding the gap between bat and pad, with Ricky Ponting also having his stumps rearranged by Dale Steyn for 16.

Peter Siddle was sent in as the night watchman but the move backfired as he failed to stick around, nicking Morne Morkel to de Villiers, so Hussey was sent out to accompany Clarke and the pair closed on five and nine respectively.

For a time it had not looked as though Australia would be batting again on Saturday as South Africa headed towards the follow-on, only for Jacques Kallis to play through the pain barrier and keep them on an even keel.

After the Proteas lost five for 17 it left Kallis, who limped off the field on day one with a hamstring strain, and Test debutant Faf du Plessis with work to do after lunch to pass the follow-on total of 351.

The pair added 93 for the eighth wicket and when Kallis was out for 58, Du Plessis (78) guided the Proteas to 388 all out, though whether Australia, who took a first-innings lead of of 162, would have made them bat again anyway was a moot point given James Pattinson was absent with a reported side injury.