Australia will be under the pump when day four of the second Test against South Africa starts, but bowling coach David Saker believes a further 110 runs will put them in the box seat for a 2-0 series lead.
Usman Khawaja and Mitch Marsh fought back fastidiously during an 87-run stand in Port Elizabeth on Sunday, building a 41-run lead as Australia reached 5-180 at stumps.
Khawaja produced his second highest score outside Australia, only to fall to Kagiso Rabada on 75 with seven minutes of play remaining.
Rabada's eighth wicket of the match kept the Proteas on track to level the spiteful four-Test series, with Marsh to resume on 39 knowing he and Tim Paine must do the bulk of the work if the visitors are to scrape together a decent target.
"Anything over 150 we're a really good chance. Anything over 100 you never know, it's a great game," Saker told reporters.
"There are some tricks coming out of those footmarks already, so a 150-plus lead will be a very tough ask for the opposition.
"Hopefully Tim and Mitch can put on another 50 or 60 and get us to a decent lead."
Steve Smith departed amid a collapse of 3-24, with South Africa boasting all the momentum after AB de Villiers' sublime century gave them a first-innings advantage of 139 runs.
But two of Australia's most criticised cricketers stepped up when a fired-up Rabada had the ball reverse-swinging and a day-three finish was a distinct possibility.
Frustration built amid Khawaja's four-hour vigil at the crease, in which he negotiated tricky spells from Rabada, Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj and Lungi Ngidi.
Proteas captain Faf du Plessis wasted both reviews during the final session before Rabada delivered the breakthrough, trapping Khawaja lbw with a ball that dipped late.
"It's the best we've bowled with the new ball in the series but after that I think we lost our skill a little bit," de Villiers said.
"The damage could have been worse, but we're very happy with this position.
"I'd say no more than (a target of) 150 but if it does go more than that ... we can still chase it down."
Khawaja averaged 24.59 outside Australia prior to Sunday's dogged dig, having either been dropped or failed to get a game on the Test side's three previous tours.
The Proteas resumed at 7-263 on day three, with de Villiers unbeaten on 74 and their lead just 20 runs.
De Villiers, having steadied after a post-tea collapse of 4-28 on day two, batted superbly to register his 22nd Test century in 117 balls.
He finished 126 not out, lifting South Africa to a total of 382.
Rabada then hammered home his side's advantage, clean bowling David Warner for 13 with a sensational delivery that triggered another spirited send-off.
Smith was out edging to Maharaj for the second time in the series, a dismissal sure to result in more questions about why the world's best batsman has such a poor record against left-arm spinners.