London:Hundreds from captain Graeme Smith and fellow opener Neil McKenzie on Sunday gave South Africa hope of forcing what would be a remarkable draw against England in the first Test at Lord's.
South Africa, heading into Monday's final day, were 242 for one - still needing another 104 runs to make England bat again - after following-on, having been bowled out for 247 in reply to the hosts' 593 for eight declared.
But, importantly, they'd lost just one wicket during the whole of Sunday's play and with the pitch still proving to be a good one for batting, England were going to have produce something special to take the nine wickets they needed to have a chance of going 1-0 up in this four-match series.
At stumps McKenzie was 102 not out, having defied England for six hours and 46 minutes with the stylish Hashim Amla unbeaten on 20.
"We needed to bounce back," said Smith who admitted his team came into the match "undercooked".
"My preparation was not ideal but I just focussed on what was important," explained the 27-year-old, who had had just one innings on tour prior to this game after sustaining a hamstring injury in the Indian Premier League.
"We knew that if we could get through the new ball we should be OK. It was a slow pitch and (England skipper) Michael (Vaughan) set defensive fields."
Smith also paid tribute to McKenzie and the understanding they'd developed.
"All credit to him. He's a had a great comeback in his career. We are both from the same school and know each other's games well, our strengths and weaknesses."
Meanwhile, Ottis (attn eds: correct) Gibson, the England bowling coach, insisted his side could come out on top.
"We still feel in the dressing room we are in a great position to win the Test match," the former West Indies seamer said.
"We bowled well but didn't have the luck we had yesterday (Saturday). We've bowled 92 overs and gone at just under two-and-a-half an over. That doesn't happen much in Test cricket."
He added: "We'd like to have had them six down, that would have been the perfect scenario, but that's why they call it Test cricket.
"You have to give credit to South African batsmen, the way they played. It wasn't pretty if you were watching in the stands but it was effective."
Gibson revealed that Ryan Sidebottom had again been suffering with a back strain but said the left-arm quick was all set to bowl through the pain-barrier.
"He's not whinged about it, gone out on the field and bowled brilliantly without any luck. If Michael Vaughan says 'Siddy, you're on,' he'll come in."
England were frustrated by an admirable partnership of 204 between Smith and McKenzie.
But when it seemed the duo might become the first pair since Australia's Geoff Marsh and Mark Taylor at Trent Bridge in 1989 to bat through a whole day of a Test in England, the ninth delivery with the new ball ended their stand.
Smith - dropped twice by wicket-keeper Tim Ambrose - was through an attempted pull off James Anderson too early, the ball hitting the toe-end of the bat and lobbing gently to Kevin Pietersen as the South Africa-born batsman ran in from backward point.
Left-hander Smith, who in the corresponding match five years ago made 259, the highest individual score by an overseas batsman in a Lord's Test, had batted for five hours and 42 minutes, facing 207 balls with 11 fours.
McKenzie kept going and a single off Stuart Broad saw the 32-year-old to his fifth Test hundred and first against England off 307 balls with 13 fours.
At tea, Smith was 71 not out and McKenzie 50 not out with England struggling on a slow surface at Lord's, where no side had won a Test since Australia in 2005.
Smith, who cleverly countered Monty Panesar's turn out out of the footmarks by playing him from way outside off-stump, took a three off the left-arm spinner to complete his 15th Test century and third against England.
Earlier, as over after over passed without a wicket, the normally reserved Lord's crowd did their best to encourage England by roaring and clapping as the bowlers ran in.
England first came close to taking a wicket on Sunday during the morning session when Smith, on 26, got a thin inside edge off Panesar, who'd taken four for 74 in the first innings.
But Ambrose had stood up too soon and the difficult chance bounced off his pads.
South Africa resumed Sunday on 13 without loss, a huge 333 runs behind after England's Ian Bell had made a Test-best 199 and Pietersen 152 in his first Test innings against the land of his birth.