Steven Jack, whose red hair and fiery temper make him a walking cliche, and Macky Hobson, a Transvaal debutant, shared seven wickets as England, 146 for 3 overnight, were dismissed for under 300.
The Australian emigrant Mike Haysman and Test reject Mark Rushmere then cut England's 132-run first-innings lead by 100 in a frustrating last session for the tourists.
Had it not been for an 87- run seventh-wicket stand between Adrian Dale and Steve Rhodes, who both batted with increasing authority, England would now be behind in the four-day match.
Hobson, who is trying to resurrect his career after failing to maintain his schoolboy promise at Border, bowled fast and loose. His wildness was not fully reflected by his figures of 4 for 76 because many deliveries required the reach of an orang- utan to hit them.
Jack, who would have joined Lancashire but for injury a couple of years ago, was marginally more accurate, especially in an impressive early- morning spell, but was less well rewarded with 3 for 76.
Jack, on standby for the South African Test side last season, did not take long to dismiss the nightwatchman, Mark Ilott, but then Mal Loye, in a repeat of the shot twice enacted by Mark Lathwell the previous day, pulled a leg-side bouncer over the backward square-leg boundary for six.
It was the cue for Jack to start steaming. Given that Loye had looped one delivery over second slip off the shoulder of his bat, another over short-leg off the splice and then inside- edged him for four, it was not surprising.
So it was with mixed feelings Jack celebrated Loye's eventual dismissal, brilliantly caught one-handed down the leg-side by the wicketkeeper Nic Pothas off an attempted hook at a particularly wayward delivery from Hobson.
But Jack had by then been consoled with the wicket of Lathwell who, having been beaten several times outside off-stump, played back and edged behind.
His and Loye's exit left England at 188 for 6, but Dale and Rhodes settled to their task, taking England to lunch at 210 for 6 after a morning session that realised less than two runs an over.
It took the return of Jack, armed with the new ball, to liven up proceedings. Rhodes ducked a bouncer then late-cut him for four. He continued to cut and pull with relish, doubling the run-rate and doing something similar to Jack's blood pressure.
He and Dale had added 87 when Hobson produced two straightish balls in five and bowled Dale, who played on, and Rhodes, playing the wrong line. Brad White then finished off the innings.
White was immediately back at the crease with a bat but, having lost Mandy Yachad caught at backward short-leg off Mark Ilott, he padded up to Dominic Cork.
(Second day of four: Transvaal won toss)
TRANSVAAL - First Innings 161 (M D Haysman 52; A Dale 3-34).
ENGLAND A - First Innings
(Overnight: 146 for 3)
M N Lathwell c Pothas b Jack 83
M C Ilott c Pothas b Jack 5
M B Loye c Pothas b Hobson 19
A Dale b Hobson 43
S J Rhodes b Hobson 45
D G Cork lbw b White 9
D Gough not out 9
P M Such c Pothas b White 0
Extras (b5 lb8 nb9) 22
Fall (cont): 4-156 5-167 6-188 7-275 8-276 9-291.
Bowling: Jack 21-1-76-3; Hobson 23-1-76-4; Jacobs 27-11-45-0; Laing 12-2-36-0; Eksteen 27-11-43-0; White 2.5-1-4-2.
TRANSVAAL - Second Innings
M Yachad b Ilott 9
B M White lbw b Cork 11
M D Haysman not out 43
M W Rushmere not out 23
Total (for 2) 100
Fall: 1-15 2-46.
To bat: *S J Cook, D Laing, N Pothas, S Jacobs, C Eksteen, M Hobson, S D Jack.
Bowling: Ilott 10-1-29-1, Gough 6-2-12-0, Such 7-1-26-0, Cork 9-4-8-1, Dale 6-2-14-0.
Umpires: C Mitchley and R Koetzen.Reuse content