By Glen Roberston
Kate Cross continued to prosper on her Ashes debut as she took three wickets to move England Women in a strong position in the Test match the WACA.
After skipper Charlotte Edwards - forced down the batting order due to injury - had hit a crucial half-century in England's 190 all out, Cross added to her three first-innings wickets by removing Meg Lanning, Jess Cameron and Alex Blackwell.
Sarah Taylor then ousted fellow wicketkeeper Jodie Fields with a brilliant piece of work behind the stumps as Australia were reduced to 57 for five at the close of day three, needing another 128 to force victory.
Resuming on 18 for three, Arran Brindle and Natalie Sciver were tasked with steadying the innings and, much like they did in the first dig, the pair performed their roles admirably, putting on a chanceless fifty partnership in the morning session.
But Ellyse Perry - who would end with her first five-wicket haul in a Test - eventually broke the stand by bowling Sciver through the gate for 23.
Perry's second scalp of the morning and third of the innings came when Brindle was trapped lbw for a patient 35, which brought the England skipper to the crease.
Edwards had suffered a knee injury on day two and was unable to bat until the tourists were five down and she wasted little time getting off the mark, going straight down the ground for a boundary from the first delivery she faced.
England had reached 93 for five at lunch, after which Edwards and Jenny Gunn accelerated.
The skipper raised her ninth half-century in 20 Test matches off 61 balls, featuring nine fours, and she celebrated by hitting a 10th off Sarah Elliott.
But her stay at the crease was soon ended, trapped lbw by Perry after making a superb 56 and putting on 85 for the sixth wicket with Gunn.
Gunn was unable to reach a fifty of her own as she edged Erin Osborne behind shortly before tea when six runs short of the milestone, before 13 runs were added for the final two wickets as England set Australia 185 to win.
The hosts showed immediately their intent with Elyse Villani hitting the first two deliveries for four before being fortunate not to depart from the third, when another attempted drive was edged behind but Taylor was unable to take a diving catch.
Villani hit three successive fours off Anya Shrubsole during the fourth over but attacking proved to be her downfall in the seventh.
She tried to hook Katherine Brunt but could only top edge to second slip where Sciver held on comfortably.
The England bowlers ramped up the pressure, delivering 29-successive dot balls to strangle the Australians.
Lanning ended that with a four off Cross, but four deliveries later she was heading back to the pavilion having edged behind for 15 and Cross struck again with her next delivery to account for Cameron.
Blackwell survived the hat-trick ball in Cross' next set of six but the Australia batter failed to last the over as she was also caught behind by Taylor.
Cross' efforts had seen Australia slip from 40 for one to 40 for four, and they lost another wicket before the close of play.
Fields, who had found the boundary a couple of times as she raced to 13, was beaten by Gunn down the leg side and Taylor reacted brilliantly to whip off the bails and complete the stumping.
Elliott and Perry survived a nervy last four overs but Australia will need the pair to bat well on the last day if they are going to pick up the six points on offer from the Test.
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