Second Test, Durban, day four (close):
England: 139 & 570-7d v South Africa 332 & 21-1
South Africa were set a Durban-record 378 to win the second Test after Graham Thorpe's unbeaten 118 marshalled England to 570-7 declared on day four.
Thorpe shared in stands of 114 with Andrew Flintoff (60) and 132 with Geraint Jones (73) after England had lost three for 21 in the morning.
The left-hander's 16th Test ton came off 209 balls and included 15 fours.
The hosts fell to 21-1 at stumps, with Matthew Hoggard trapping home skipper Graeme Smith lbw for five.
To win, South Africa will have to break their own chasing record at the ground, which they set in 2002 when scoring 340 to beat Australia.
On the third day, South Africa waited all day for a wicket, but three came along at once when play resumed on the fourth.
Makhaya Ntini was the man to ignite the flame, tempting Andrew Strauss (136) into a flash outside the off-stump which was pouched by Martin van Jaarsveld at third slip.
The paceman followed up with the wicket of Michael Vaughan, whose poor run continued when he was cramped up by a short ball and gloved behind for 10, taking his four-innings aggregate this series to 53.
Ntini bowled with great speed and purpose in the morning
Shaun Pollock was doing a fine job tying up his end, and England soon fell to 314-4 when Jacques Kallis put an end to Mark Butcher's painful 70-ball 13.
It left the visitors' leading by just 121 and with the middle-order exposed, but the lack of depth in South Africa's attack gave England the chance to stabilise.
With Smith forced to rely on support acts Dale Steyn (1-122) and Nicky Boje (1-163), England reasserted through Thorpe's partnerships with Flintoff and Jones.
Flintoff, careful to avoid a pair of ducks, was indecisive early on, edging streakily for four and being struck on the shoulder in one Steyn over.
But the all-rounder ended the first session with a full-blooded cover-drive that sent Steyn to the fence, and he carried on in similar vein after the interval.
Flintoff averted a second match duck with his 13th Test fifty
A six off Pollock over long-on was followed by two more off Ntini over square-leg, and Flintoff emulated Thorpe by reaching 50 with a boundary.
South Africa's only strike of the afternoon came when Smith offered a long-hop to Flintoff and found the edge, which AB de Villiers gloved behind the stumps.
England's scoring rate increased when Jones came to the crease, and he complemented Thorpe's grafting approach with some abrasive strokeplay.
The keeper blazed 73 off 82 balls, with 10 fours and two sixes, as England chased quick runs prior to the declaration, joining Thorpe in top-edging the hapless Steyn over De Villier's head on numerous occasions.
South Africa were forced to place a fielder at long-stop, but the runs continued to flow until Jones holed out at long-on to give Boje his sole strike.
Ashley Giles, who will be fit to bowl on day five after suffering back spasms, came out to bat, but his swift removal by Steyn prompted the declaration.
England squandered a chance to break through in Steve Harmison's second over when Herschelle Gibbs edged behind to Jones, who was wrong-footed and extended just his right glove.
The incision soon came, though, when Smith planted his front foot in front of the stumps and was rapped on the pads by Hoggard's full-pitched inswinger.
It was the perfect end to a great day for England, who have a magnificent chance to end 2004 with a ninth successive Test win.
South Africa: Graeme Smith (captain), Herschelle Gibbs, Jacques Rudolph, Jacques Kallis, Martin van Jaarsveld, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Shaun Pollock, Nicky Boje, Makhaya Ntini, Dale Steyn.
England: Marcus Trescothick, Andrew Strauss, Mark Butcher, Michael Vaughan (captain), Graham Thorpe, Andrew Flintoff, Geraint Jones, Ashley Giles, Matthew Hoggard, Simon Jones, Stephen Harmison.
Umpires: D Hair, S Taufel.