Australia went to tea on Sunday at 7-254, still holding a lead of 264 over England but with the game far more in the balance than it appeared likely to be earlier in the morning.
In a dramatic 90-minute period either side of lunch, Australia lost the majority of their star-studded top and middle order as Lauren Filer (2-49) and Sophie Ecclestone (3-63) ran through the tourists.
England could also be on top of the game had they not put down six separate chances in Australia’s innings, including the chance to have Alyssa Healy caught behind for a fourth-straight duck.
After collecting a pair in Canberra in her last Test and going without scoring in the first innings in Nottingham, Healy was dropped by wicketkeeper Amy Jones first ball on Sunday.
Australia’s captain survived, eventually got off the mark, and has fought to hold her team’s innings together as she went to tea unbeaten on 47.
Alana King is alongside her on nine, with the pair having put on a crucial 56-run partnership.
England’s debutant Filer had earlier opened the door for the collapse, in a big two-over period before lunch.
After claiming Perry’s scalp for 99 in the first innings, the right-arm quick angled a ball in at the Australian superstar and had her dismissed, playing-on, for 25 in the second.
She then sent one through Tahlia McGrath when she seamed the ball back into the South Australian, giving England genuine hope.
Picked to debut because of her speed, the 22-year-old FilerÂ has regularly been able to get the ball up around the helmet of Australia’s batters, on a wicket offering little carry or bounce for other bowlers.
Jess Jonassen went shortly after lunch when she was bowled trying to sweep Ecclestone on 14, before Beth Mooney chopped onto an Ecclestone ball that spun sharply back into her on 73.
First-innings centurion Annabel Sutherland became Ecclestone’s third wicket when she pulled her straight to square leg, before Ashleigh Gardner was caught at slip off Kate Cross.
Australia will still believe they are in the position to win the match, given England will already need to surpass the highest fourth-innings score in the history of women’s Tests to win the match.
There was also a scare for the hosts when veteran Nat Sciver-Brunt slipped over in her follow through just before tea, and left the field for treatment.