London - Jacques Rudolph and JP Duminy helped South Africa recover from an early collapse against England but the tourists were still struggling at 151 for five at tea on the first day of the third Test at Lord's on Thursday.
Live scorecardRudolph was 41 not out and Duminy 26 not out, with the Proteas having been in dire straits at 65 for four at lunch.
But AB de Villiers was the only man dismissed in the second session after fast bowler Steven Finn (three for 48) had taken three wickets for three runs in seven legitimate deliveries.
South Africa, in a match where they only have to avoid defeat to replace England as the world's No 1 ranked Test side, saw captain Graeme Smith win the toss and bat in overcast conditions.
The opener had made scores of 259 and 107 in his two previous Lord's Tests.
But a third century eluded him on Thursday when James Anderson, with his first ball from around the wicket, had the left-hander caught behind by wicketkeeper Matt Prior although England had to review Sri Lankan umpire Kumar Dharmasena's initial not out decision.
It was the first time in four innings this series that Smith, who on Thursday broke Australia great Allan Border's record for most Tests as captain by leading the Proteas for the 94th match, had failed to make a fifty.
First change Finn, who retained his place at the expense of Tim Bresnan after England recalled off-spinner Graeme Swann having opted for an all seam attack during the drawn second Test at Headingley, then took over.
Petersen, who made a Test-best 182 in Leeds, was next out when he 'gloved' the tall Finn, getting good bounce, down the legside to Prior for 22.
It seemed he'd withdrawn his hand from the bat in time, but Petersen did not review the decision.
And 49 for two soon became 54 for four as England, whose build-up to this match had been overshadowed by their decision to drop Kevin Pietersen for sending text messsages to South African players, saw Finn make a quick double strike.
Amla, who posted national record 311 not out in South Africa's innings victory in the first Test at The Oval, was bowled for 13 by a superb Finn delivery that nipped between bat and pad to clip off-stump.
Kallis then fell for just three, going the same way as Petersen, although his legside glove needed a review by Australian third umpire Rod Tucker that took several minutes.
It appeared his hand too was off the bat at the moment of impact.
But Tucker felt differently, much to Kallis's obvious disbelief, and England captain Andrew Strauss, a Middlesex team-mate of Finn, had yet more reason to celebrate his 100th Test and 50th as skipper.
After lunch, de Villiers and Rudolph put on 51 for the fifth wicket.
But the stand ended when De Villiers, who struck six fours in his 27, edged Anderson to third slip Alastair Cook.
However, Rudolph broke the shackles by lofting Swann straight for four.
South Africa 1st Innings: 151-5 (Jacques Rudolph 41 not out; Steven Finn 3-48, James Anderson 2-39).