There was no 31st Test hundred for Cook - he fell 12 runs short when Morkel won an lbw decision - but Stokes played vigorously from the start of the second day as England reached lunch at 269 for 6. It was later reported that Philander had been taken to hospital.
After Malan was dismissed England's accumulation of a further 51 runs showed how well South Africa bowled and just how hard the conditions were. He accounted for Jennings, who chalked up his third duck in nine Test innings.
Roland-Jones does not bowl with express pace, nudging 85 miles per hour at best for all that his run-up might suggest he does coming from the shadows of the sightscreens, but his probing and lifting deliveries caught South Africa's top order by surprise. Root confirmed the fast bowler's absence and spelled out why Roland-Jones can be an effective deputy.
Westley has been drafted into the England squad after Gary Ballance suffered a broken finger in the second match of the series, ruling him out of the remaining two Tests. He found an old willing ally in Jonny Bairstow (36) and a new one in Roland-Jones, who enjoyed his six and four fours hugely. South Africa showed how to bounce back so quickly after a heavy defeat and that's a good template for us here.
South Africa have no doubt he will return in the right frame of mind too.
One meagre consolation for South Africa came when, even with the floodlights switched on, the skies above The Oval were so dark that the only to avoid play being halted for bad light was for England to bowl spin at both ends via Joe Root and Moeen Ali.
But fellow left-handed batsman Stokes, who made a Test- best 258 against South Africa at Cape Town previous year, dismissively pulled Morkel for four.
James Anderson, doubtless earlier unimpressed to be taken off in favour of Roland-Jones with conditions seemingly ideal for England's record wicket taker, got into the act later with two wickets and Stokes, inevitably, chipped in with another. Stuart Broad produced a scorcher to bowl Rabada for 30, pitching middle and hitting the top of off. South Africa, though, will be hoping to do exactly that.
The hosts were thumped by 340 runs in Nottingham this month as the tourists levelled the four-match series in convincing fashion.
He will resume on Friday with the score 171 for four from 59 overs, with Ben Stokes not out on 21 for company. Cook added only six to his overnight 82 but when he was leg-before to Morne Morkel, he had already played a vital hand.
Kagiso Rabada ended Bairstow's stay as the latter edged one to second slip where Faf du Plessis took a good catch.
It does not look almost as impressive as the first two sets of numbers but it was good enough to beat Ben Stokes four times, three in his last over. The first, a slog to long-on, was "caught" by du Plessis but he touched the boundary rope in the process.
But the next ball sailed high into the stands as Stokes completed a 144-ball century.