The Proteas were denied a rare, two-day victory in the first Sunfoil Test match when New Zealand survived 52 overs to reach 169-4 at the close of play, still requiring another 133 runs to make South Africa bat again.
An unbeaten 69 from Dean Brownlie, dropped twice in the 20s, helped New Zealand take the game into a third day once Graeme Smith had declared soon after lunch with a total of 347-8, a lead of 302 runs.
South Africa started the second day on 252-3 but the visitors struck early when centurion Alviro Petersen was bowled off an inside edge from the seventh ball of the day for 106 from 176 deliveries with 11 fours and a six. It was his fifth Test century.
Faf du Plessis returned to earth after averaging 146.5 in two Tests against Australia when he was caught in the gulley for 15 but AB de Villiers made a hard-fought 67 from 129 balls with eight boundaries.
Dean Elgar scored his first runs in Test cricket after recording a pair on debut in Perth but edged left armer Trent Boult to ‘keeper BJ Watling for 21 shortly before lunch which the Proteas took at 335-6.
The Black Caps’ second innings began terribly with opener Martin Guptill chipping the final ball of Dale Steyn’s opening over to short midwicket without a run on the board but Kane Williamson and captain Brendon McCullum showed the sort of resolve which was so lacking in the first innings when the tourists were dismissed for just 45 in 19.2 overs.
The 29-run partnership lasted 16.4 overs before Williamson edged Jacques Kallis to second slip in the penultimate over before tea.
McCullum, however, was in a stoic mood and put the highest price on his wicket during a stand of 89 with Australian-born Brownlie who counter-attacked in entertaining style, striking Philander for three boundaries in an over soon after tea. Brownlie was dropped twice in the gulley region with Dean Elgar and Alviro Petersen both spilling catches they would regard as ‘regulation.’
Smith’s decision to replace Philander with Robin Peterson paid immediate dividends when McCullum was trapped lbw for 51 in his second over, ending a stand of 89 from just 81 deliveries.
Brownlie reached his fourth Test half-century from just 44 deliveries but the Proteas collected a fourth wicket before the close of play when Kallis claimed a second wicket courtesy of a fine catch by AB de Villiers off an inside edge from left-hander Daniel Flynn (14).