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Aussies skittled, SAfrica on top at WACA

AAP logoAAP 4/11/2016 Rob Forsaith

Australia's batting woes have been laid bare at the WACA, where South Africa hold a 102-run lead and are in a dominant position in the first Test after what David Warner termed "a couple of soft dismissals" on day two.

The Proteas will resume their second dig at 2-104 after staging a remarkable comeback with the ball on Friday in the absence of spearhead Dale Steyn, who has been ruled out of the three-match series with a shoulder injury.

Australia were well placed to take complete control of the match at 0-158 but capitulated to be all out for 244 at tea.

Steve Smith's side then dismissed Stephen Cook and Hashim Amla but were still stewing on a top-order collapse of 5-23. Australia's Test side haven't lost their top five wickets in such fashion at home since 1978.

"I can't (explain it) ... a few of us probably have to look at ourselves in the mirror and say why did we play those shots," David Warner told the Nine Network.

"A couple of soft dismissals from us has let them back in the game.

"I don't really have the answers, but we have to really knuckle down as a batting unit."

Smith had rejected Steyn's pre-game suggestion that Australia could crumble if South Africa were to dismiss the skipper cheaply and "cut off the head of the snake".

Smith, who recorded the fourth duck of his Test career and could be punished for dissent after failing to hide his disbelief and disappointment with Aleem Dar's lbw decision, had insisted recent collapses in the 3-0 series loss to Sri Lanka would not be replicated.

A chaotic slump of 10-86, kickstarted by Steyn's dismissal of Warner for 97, suggested otherwise.

Usman Khawaja, Smith, Shaun Marsh and Mitch Marsh were out in alarmingly quick fashion. Adam Voges (27) and Peter Nevill (23) threatened to steady but failed to stop the rot.

Warner conceded some teammates were under pressure to keep their spot in the XI.

"They'll remain positive. There is a little bit of pressure but ... we're here to score runs and win a game of cricket. We need to let that go, not dwell on the past," he said.

It was all the more remarkable because Steyn trudged off the park shortly after removing Warner.

Warner shared a 158-run opening stand with Shaun Marsh but still felt partly to blame for the woes that followed.

"I accept responsibility ... we always talk about one guy going on and getting a big hundred. Me and SOS were in, one of us should have went on," the vice-captain said.

Khawaja was clean bowled by an in-swinging yorker from Kagiso Rabada, before the Marsh brothers were both trapped lbw by Vernon Philander in near-identical fashion.

Nevill was wrongly given out but could do nothing about it as Smith and Shaun Marsh had used Australia's two reviews.

"We have to accept the umpire's decision. It's quite tough to bite your tongue and walk when you feel you're not out or disappointed with a poor shot," Warner said, when asked about Smith's show of rage.

Philander finished with figures of 4-56, while left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj pocketed three wickets on debut.

"Hopefully we can skittle them again," Philander said.

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