England off-spinner Graeme Swann dominated a bizarre second day of the second Ashes Test with 5-44 as Australia were bundled out for just 128 at Lord's on Friday.
But just as the tourists appeared to be heading towards a second straight defeat in the five-match series, fast bowler Peter Siddle led a spirited fightback with the wickets of Alastair Cook (8), Jonathan Trott (0) and Kevin Pietersen (5) as England was reduced to 31-3 at stumps. Siddle was 3-4 from five overs.
Joe Root was 18 not out and nightwatchman Tim Bresnan was yet to score.
England, who racked up 361 in their first innings, still led by 264 runs because of their significant first innings lead.
England are ahead in the season after Australia lost the first Test by 14 runs in Nottingham.
The pitch offered considerable turn for Swann but in hot and sunny weather on a dry and flat surface, conditions still favoured batting despite 16 wickets falling in the day, as celebrities such as Mick Jagger, Russell Crowe, David Cameron and Elizabeth Hurley watched from the sidelines.
England first innings:
Alastair Cook lbw b Watson 12
Joe Root lbw b Harris 6
Jonathan Trott c Khawaja b Harris 58
Kevin Pietersen c Haddin b Harris 2
Ian Bell c Clarke b Smith 109
Jonny Bairstow c and b Smith 67
Matt Prior c Haddin b Smith 6
Tim Bresnan c Haddin b Harris 7
James Anderson c Haddin b Harris 12
Stuart Broad c Haddin b Pattinson 33
Graeme Swann not out 28
TOTAL: (all out) 361
Australia first innings:
Shane Watson lbw b Bresnan 30
Chris Rogers lbw b Swann 15
Usman Khawaja c Pietersen b Swann 14
Phil Hughes c Prior b Bresnan 1
Michael Clarke lbw b Broad 28
Steve Smith c Bell b Swann 2
Brad Haddin c Trott b Swann 7
Ashton Agar run out 2
Peter Siddle c Swann b Anderson 2
James Pattinson not out 10
Ryan Harris c Pietersen b Swann 10
TOTAL: (all out) 128
England second innings:
Alastair Cook b Siddle 8
Joe Root not out 18
Jonathan Trott b Siddle 0
Kevin Pietersen c Rogers b Siddle 5
Tim Bresnan not out 0
TOTAL: (3 wickets) 31
Cook and Trott each played on to Siddle, while the unpredictable Pietersen played a casual, loose drive to Chris Rogers at point just 20 minutes from the close to give the Australians some cheer at the end of what had been a bitterly disappointing day for them.
Australia's demise began with the fall of Watson for a top score 30, to the last ball before lunch. He was lbw to Bresnan and wasted one of his team's two reviews in the process.
Rogers, playing on his home ground and where he is captain of county team Middlesex, was lbw to Swann for 15, though in farcical circumstances. Swann bowled an ugly waist-high full-toss which the left-hander tried to pull towards the Tavern Stand only to miss his connection and be struck in the mid-rift.
Umpire Marais Erasmus ruled the ball was dipping sufficiently to hit the stumps. Rogers opted not to utilise his team's remaining review. If he had, he would have been reprieved as replays showed the ball missing leg stump.
That was 50 for two, which became 53 for three when Phil Hughes attempted a smear through cover at a wide Bresnan delivery, only to be given caught behind for 1.
He immediately reviewed his dismissal but third umpire Tony Hill upheld the original decision through lack of evidence to the contrary - there was no obvious mark on hot-spot but there was a slight noise.
Usman Khawaja was dropped on 7 by Trott at slip off Swann, who had his revenge when the left-hander irresponsibly tried to hit him over long-off only to find Pietersen at mid-off. That was 69 for four.
Steve Smith prodded a Swann off-break to Ian Bell at short-leg to make it 86 for five, while Australia captain and the team's talisman Clarke was trapped lbw by Stuart Broad for 28. It was 96 for seven with the needless run out of Ashton Agar for 2.
Siddle, Haddin and Ryan Harris followed after tea, with the latter hitting Swann to Pietersen at mid-on to hand the spinner his five-wicket milestone.
An aggressive last-wicket partnership of 48 earlier boosted England's first innings total. Broad (33) and Swann (28 not out) clubbed the precious runs in just 40 deliveries. Their effort undermined the excellent bowling display from Harris, who claimed five for 72 to secure his name on the famous Lord's honours board.