Keaton Jennings rode his luck and Tom Westley played another encouraging innings to leave England well-placed at tea on a rain-marred third day of the third Test against South Africa at The Oval on Saturday.
England were 74 for one in their second innings, a lead of 252 runs, after yet more bad weather in the 100th Test at The Oval meant only 16.2 overs were possible between lunch and tea.
South Africa-born opener Jennings was 34 not out and Westley, one of three debutants in England's XI, unbeaten on 28.
But the under-pressure Jennings, out for nought in the first innings, nearly fell cheaply again to another slip catch by Dean Elgar off Vernon Philander when he edged the paceman on six only for the sharp chance to be dropped on this occasion.
Earlier, South Africa avoided the follow-on thanks mainly to middle-order batsman Temba Bavuma.
His gutsy 52 was the cornerstone of the Proteas' 175 all out.
That left then 178 runs behind England's first innings 353, which featured Ben Stokes's 112 and former captain Alastair Cook's 88.
Toby Roland-Jones, who'd removed all of South Africa's top four in a sensational debut bowling effort on Friday, eventually had Bavuma caught behind to end the innings.
Middlesex seamer Roland-Jones finished with figures of five for 57 in 16.4 overs to become just the sixth England cricketer to take five or more wickets in their debut bowling innings in Test match cricket.
South Africa resumed on 126 for eight, still 28 runs shy of avoiding the follow-on.
Bavuma was 34 not out and Morne Morkel unbeaten on two, with this four-match series in the balance at 1-1 and the continued overcast conditions again favouring the faster bowlers.
South Africa were bolstered by knowing Philander had been passed fit after a night on a hospital drip that followed a second day's play from which the all-rounder was largely absent.
The diminutive Bavuma had a reprieve on 40 when an edged drive off Stuart Broad flew low to gully where a diving Stokes could not hold what would have been a stunning catch.
Bavuma subsequently ensured South Africa avoided the follow-on by driving a Broad half-volley through the covers for four.
And he then produced an even better cover-driven four off James Anderson, with England's record Test wicket-taker hit on the up.
But a valuable ninth-wicket partnership of 47 ended when Morkel (17) nicked Anderson to Cook at first slip.
Bavuma's edge to the third man boundary off Roland-Jones saw him complete a hard-earned fifty off 111 balls, including eight fours.
The worth of his more than three-hour innings was acknowledged by South Africa captain Faf du Plessis, who led the applause from the dressing room balcony.
But Bavuma was out soon afterwards, edging a good length Roland-Jones ball to wicket-keeper Jonny Bairstow.
England lost Cook shortly after lunch when he was bowled by an excellent delivery from fast bowler Morkel for just seven.
Westley, a longstanding team-mate of Cook at county side Essex, twice drove Philander for four and cover-drove Morkel for another boundary.
It appeared Westley, who made 25 in England's first innings, was making a conscious effort to play straighter and only turn balls angled into his pads onto the legside.
Left-hander Jennings was on 33 when given out lbw to fast bowler Kagiso Rabada but his review of umpire Joel Wilson's decision showed the ball had pitched just outside his leg stump.