Fifth Test, The Oval, day three (close): England 502-7; South Africa 484
Graham Thorpe made a triumphant return to Test cricket but Marcus Trescothick stole the show with his first double century in first-class cricket.
The third day belonged to England, who moved into a 18-run lead but were pegged back late in the day as South Africa grabbed three wickets for 22 runs.
Trescothick batted for most of the day for 219, his first century against a non-Asian country and his first for England since Sri Lanka at Edgbaston last June.
Thorpe's 124 was his first ever Test century at his home ground and a first for England since he scored 123 in Birmingham 14 months ago.
The two left-handers broke new ground for an England third-wicket stand at The Oval, their 268 beating by four runs the effort by Len Hutton and Wally Hammond in 1939.
If Thorpe used Friday evening to settle back into Test cricket, he used Saturday morning to make up for lost time.
The Surrey left-hander continued his masterclass square of the wicket, and it is saying something that he was more incisive than the habitually impulsive Trescothick early on.
Pollock was an unwilling punching bag to Thorpe early on, straying down leg-side far too often and paying the price.
Kallis was providing a similar service to Trescothick at the other end, and the opener was in no mood for clemency to balls over-pitched outside off-stump.
Skipper Graeme Smith threw what he could at England, making five bowling changes and even using Jacques Rudolph but nothing worked and 106 runs were scored in the morning session.
England indulged in more of the same after lunch, Thorpe standing on one foot to clobber Ntini in front of point for four and later punching the air in delight as he brought up his 12th Test century.
But shortly before tea, Jacques Kallis, bowling around the wicket, split Thorpe's defence and bowled the Surrey man.
South Africa had worked very hard for their first breakthrough, and perhaps deserved it after Pollock and Ntini had tied things up after the new ball was taken.
Ed Smith scored 16 in an uncomfortable hour at the crease before Kallis trapped him on the crease, his dismissal bringing Alec Stewart to the middle for what could be his final Test innings.
Stewart proved a dependable partner for Trescothick, who by the evening session was dispatching South Africa's disorganised and weary attack to all parts of the ground.
Paul Adams, who earlier was taken to by Thorpe, was the worst offender, offering far too many long-hops and full-tosses and never threatening to take a wicket.
He also put down a very sharp chance off Trescothick in the deep an hour before time, an indiscretion soon emulated by Neil McKenzie to give Stewart a life.
The veteran did not capitalise on the chance, however, and perished lbw to Pollock for 38 after playing back to a ball that, perhaps ominously, kept low.
Trescothick soon followed after top-edging Ntini and picking out Rudolph in the deep, bringing to an end a marathon 374-ball innings which boasted 32 fours and two sixes.
Kallis continued South Africa's late revival with the wicket of Ashley Giles, and England will be wanting some fireworks from Andrew Flintoff on Sunday morning if they are to force a result.
England: M P Vaughan (Capt), M E Trescothick, M A Butcher
G P Thorpe, E T Smith, A J Stewart (Wkt), A Flintoff, A F Giles
M P Bicknell, J M Anderson, S J Harmison.
South Africa: G C Smith (Capt), H H Gibbs, G Kirsten, J H Kallis
N D McKenzie, J A Rudolph, M V Boucher (Wkt), S M Pollock, A J Hall
P R Adams, M Ntini.