England bowling coach Ottis Gibson praised the efforts of the home attack as South Africa continued to dominate the second Test at Trent Bridge.
The Proteas, having started the day on 75 for one, declared their second innings on 343 for nine, setting England a mammoth victory target of 474.
England openers Alastair Cook and Keaton Jennings then managed to survive four overs before the close.
Earlier in the day, Hashim Amla followed up his first-innings half-century with a fine 87, while opener Dean Elgar contributed 80 and captain Faf du Plessis 63 as the visitors built a commanding lead on day three.
Moeen Ali picked up four for 78, while Ben Stokes and James Anderson finished with two wickets apiece.
Gibson told Sky Sports afterwards: "It would be a great game for us to win from here. A lot of credit goes to South Africa for the way they've come out over the last three days and played.
"They've put us under a lot of pressure, some of it we haven't responded very well to - getting bowled out in the first innings - but clearly today we have shown a lot of character, not just the bowlers but the fielders as well."
He added: "This morning in the huddle the captain said he wanted people to step up. And I thought Anderson, who bowled a lot of overs in the first innings, came in and led really well this morning.
"Anderson and (Stuart) Broad are a fantastic combination for us. Mark Wood, he's not got any wickets yet but he's bowled really well in patches in the game. Stokes was fantastic today as well.
"The spinners didn't have a lot to do but Moeen got four wickets this afternoon.
"All in all it's been a tough couple of days but we've got two days to make 480 and when the sun comes out at Trent Bridge the wicket can get quite flat, so that's how we've got to approach the next two days."