At lunch on day two of the second Test, Watson and Hughes were unbeaten and had lifted Australia to a formidable 0-169 after just 33 overs and one session of batting.
Replying to South Africa’s first-innings total of 266, the tourists have a great opportunity to take a stranglehold on the match they must win to square the series.
Transferring the strike brilliantly, the duo kept an even pace until they brought up their half centuries and since then Hughes has kicked on to be 85 not out to Watson’s 76 not out.
Their impressive first-wicket stand in Johannesburg is comfortably their best ever, surpassing their 105-run partnership against Pakistan in Sydney in January 2010.
It’s Australia’s first century stand by any opening pair since March 2010 against New Zealand and the second-highest ever by an Australian pair in Johannesburg.
Leading into the must-win Wanderers Test, Watson and Hughes were averaging just 31.46 from eight Tests played together at the top of the innings.
Hughes was under significant pressure to hold his spot in the team, while there were increased calls for Watson to be moved back down the order to ease his work-rate.
However, scoring at greater than five runs an over and more than a run-a-minute for the first session, the pair showcased exactly what they’re capable of if they find their feet as a combination.
Watson has smashed 12 fours and two sixes and Hughes 14 boundaries.
The Proteas were guilty of bowling poorly and looking sluggish in the field.
Spearhead Dale Steyn (0-43) was uncharacteristically off the pace, getting his length wrong from the outset.
Man-of-the-match from Cape Town Vernon Philander (0-30) beat the outside edge often but failed to make the breakthrough, and after a blistering start, Morne Morkel (0-36) faded.
Jacques Kallis (0-29) should have had Hughes out caught behind for just 38, but the South Africans decided against reviewing the decision after umpire Billy Bowden initially turned down the appeal.
Leg-spinner Imran Tahir (0-26) has had a couple of appeals, but is struggling for impact.
Watson didn’t seem to be hampered by his right hamstring injury while batting, however it’s still doubtful whether he will bowl again in the match.