PERTH (Reuters) - South Africa were closing on an emphatic victory at lunch on the final day of the first test on Monday after removing Usman Khawaja, Mitchell Marsh and Mitchell Starc to leave Australia on 263 for seven, still 275 runs behind.
All three wickets were lbw and all reviewed, Khawaja falling to part-timer spinner JP Duminy three runs shy of his fifth test century after paceman Kagiso Rabada had claimed his fourth wicket of the innings to dismiss Mitchell Marsh for 26.
Rabada, taking a heavier bowling load after Dale Steyn was lost for the series to injury, had a spell on the sidelines with an ice-pack on his shoulder but returned to take the new ball and send Starc packing for 13.
That gave the 21-year-old his fourth five-wicket haul in his ninth test and he finished the session with 5-73 off 24 overs, just reward for some impressive swing bowling.
Peter Nevill will resume on 20 not out along with Peter Siddle, who had yet to score, with the hosts long reduced to trying to bat out the day for a draw rather than chase 539 for a win.
Australia, who resumed on 169-4, had added 27 runs to their tally when Marsh departed on a DRS review of an lbw appeal, Rabada getting enough swing on the ball to fool the batsman but not so much that it would have missed the leg stump.
Temba Bavuma, whose brilliant fielding accounted for opener David Warner on Sunday, almost claimed another key victim with his first delivery in test cricket.
Khawaja, on 84, was plumb lbw after the ball hit a crack and thudded into his front pad but the 26-year-old had overstepped the mark and umpire Nigel Llong called a no-ball.
Lefthander Khawaja had started the morning on 58 and continued to display the same grit and determination that had got him through to the close on day four.
Duminy had also been brought on as South Africa awaited the new ball and his first delivery skidded into Khawaja's back pad, the 29-year-old the second Australian batsman after Warner to perish on 97 in this test.
The three-match series continues in Hobart before concluding with a day-night test in Adelaide.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney; Editing by Ian Ransom)