Back-to-form Alastair Cook made a painstaking century as he combined with Paul Collingwood to give England a significant mid-match advantage in the second Test.
Cook's first hundred since May and a gritty 91 from Collingwood underpinned a stumps total of 386 for five in reply to South Africa's 343 on a gloriously sunny third day at Kingsmead.
At a venue where many assumed the likes of Cook and Collingwood may be destined to be overshadowed by a major innings from Kevin Pietersen or even his fellow South Africa-born batsman Jonathan Trott, it was England's determined fourth-wicket pair who shone.
Cook (118) had made just one half-century in 12 Test innings but ground his way past that milestone from 136 balls, and then prospered against the old ball on the way to three figures in 82 more - with 10 fours along the way.
Collingwood shared a stand of 142 with the opener as South Africa endured a wicketless second session and replicated Cook's unhurried tempo in his own 215-ball innings as the tourists took a 43-run lead at stumps, with Ian Bell 55 not out.
Pietersen (31) and Trott (18) were the only batsmen to lose their wickets before tea.
Trott went to the seventh ball of the day when he found himself slightly turned around pushing forward to a straight delivery from Morne Morkel and edged behind to be well-caught by Mark Boucher.
The scene was therefore set early for Pietersen, in his first Test innings at what was once his home ground. However, having already been dropped by Jacques Kallis at slip off Paul Harris, he missed an attempted sweep at the left-arm spinner and was given out lbw.
Cook and Collingwood combined well before the former was dismissed by Morkel in early evening, a good delivery from round the wicket holding its line and taking the edge for a neat catch at second slip by Kallis.
Collingwood very nearly ground to a halt as he approached three figures, only to fall short anyway when an attempted cut at JP Duminy's off-spin resulted in a thin edge behind, but Bell and Matt Prior (11no) were still there at the close.