Rassie van der Dussen was run out on the cusp of a century after returning from injury for South Africa in the four-day clash with a Cricket Australia XI.
Van der Dussen was crestfallen to depart for 95 after Temba Bavuma sent him back when his partner had called for a single at Allan Border Field.
The 33-year-old had missed the final Test of the recent England tour and the T20 World Cup with a broken finger.
At tea on day three the Proteas were 4-164 in their second innings.
South Africa breathed a sigh of relief when Test vice-captain Bavuma strode to the crease just before lunch.
Bavuma, who made 28, had reinjured an elbow in the nets that kept him out of the recent Test tour of England and did not bat in the first innings.
He was wearing a compression bandage on his left arm when he came in just before lunch in a huge boost to the Proteas chances in the first Test against Australia at the Gabba starting on December 17.
Van der Dussen was in supreme form. His drives down the ground were crisp and effective and he played a suite of reverse sweeps to the boundary off spinner Matt Kuhnemann.
Bavuma took his time but showcased his strength square of the wicket which is paramount for batsmen on Australian pitches.
Captain Dean Elgar said after play on the first day that it was imperative the Proteas made substantial totals in the upcoming Test series to give their strike pacemen the opportunity to put pressure on Australia's batters.
Van der Dussen's form, along with the 80 made by wicketkeeper Kyle Verreynne in the first innings, has come at just the right time.
South Africa lost opener Sarel Erwee (two) to the first ball of the morning off Jordan Buckingham.
Elgar (26) was bowled by a Blake Edwards delivery that kept low. Queensland quick Edwards has come into the Cricket Australia side for the final two days of the match after paceman Liam Hatcher was ruled out with a knee complaint.
The Proteas lead by 285 runs after making 347 in their first innings and then bowling the hosts out for 226.
Captain Elgar (109) top-scored for South Africa in his first dig while 20-year-old Campbell Kellaway (105no) held the CA XI innings together.