Nottinghamshire’s Jake Ball and Stuart Broad took early wicket as Australia stuttered at the start of their first innings.
Broad removed Cameron Bancroft for five to reduce the home side to 7/1 as they chase England’s 302 all out.
Ball then claimed the wicket of David Warner for 26 to leave the Aussies wobbling at 59/3.
Jimmy Anderson trapped Peter Handscomb LBW as England took a tighter grip with Australia left rocking on 76/4.
But England were unable to build on that promising start as Steve Smith (64*) and Shaun Marsh (44*) steadied the ship to leave Australia 165/4 at the close of play.