South Africa can take one massive victory out of it because their most-talented newcomer has passed his hardest test. Markram's first two Test hundreds against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe were tasters, taken off attacks that a player of his quality would be upset not to have scored heavily against. Starc also had a series of exchanges in the middle with South Africa's Theunis de Bruyn. Smith backed the Proteas paceman to keep his spot in South Africa's playing XI for the second test, beginning on March 9, in Port Elizabeth. However, Marsh (96) and wicketkeeper Tim Paine (25) added 60 runs for the sixth-wicket to consolidate the Aussie innings.
Australia's batsmen played a full part in the return of the coveted urn. Maharaj's 4/102 in the second innings bolstered his match figures of 9/225 - a career-best.
Rabada had first innings top-scorer Mitchell Marsh caught by Hashim Amla at first slip for six. There is prediction for showers on the fifth day but for that, South Africa would have to battle it out on the fourth. Warner, Australia's vice-captain, then unleashed a spray on centurion Aiden Markram, who was involved in the run out, while Lyon dropped the ball in the direction of De Villiers who was sprawled on the turf in trying to make his ground.
Calamity then struck for South Africa when De Villiers was run-out when he was rightfully sent back by Markram after looking to steal a single.
"We've gone with seven batsmen", said South African captain Faf du Plessis.
But with every early wicket - and there were a lot of them - South Africa's chances of pulling off another miracle dwindled.
This particular effort drew the highest praise from teammate Mitchell Marsh, who described Starc's ability as "impossible" to deal with.
"I hit a lot of cricket balls the last three days", said Warner.
Smith opted to review the decision, but his gamble didn't pay off as the on-field decision was upheld.
De Kock and Morkel survived some nine overs as Smith and Lyon unsuccessfully attempted to end the final partnership in gloomy conditions.
Without any red ball preparation to speak of for the first Test in Durban after flying in late from the Twenty20 internationals in New Zealand, Warner didn't skip a beat as he carved out a classy half century. De Kock needs to fire.
Australia ended day three on 213/9 and will continue batting on Sunday at 10:00 local time or 08:00 GMT. Centurion Markram attempted to guide the ball down to third man but caught the top-edge, which Paine took sublimely despite standing up to the stumps.
Starc's reverse-swing clinic continued as he cleaned up the tail in clinical fashion, trapping Kagiso Rabada lbw and skittling Morne Morkel's stumps.
Smith did not hesitate to bat when he won the toss, but early hopes of forging a formidable total on a slow deck went as Cameron Bancroft (5) and Usman Khawaja (14) were dismissed inside the opening 12 overs.