Australia is on the verge of reclaiming the Ashes, as long as Perth's weather behaves, after making significant inroads into England's line-up on day four.
At stumps England was 4-132, still 127 runs behind Australia and surely needing a helping hand from the weather to delay passing the urn back to the Aussies.
After day three's batting delirium, day four started in mediocre fashion for Australia, with Mitchell Marsh failing to add to his incredible overnight 181 before being trapped LBW by James Anderson (4-116).
Steve Smith was next to go soon after, adding just a handful of runs before he too was rapped plumb on the pads by Anderson to conclude his gargantuan knock at 239.
Before anyone had time to react, Australia was seven down thanks to a mix-up between Tim Paine (49 not out) and Mitchell Starc (1) which saw Starc sacrificed for a run-out.
Paine was joined by the burgeoning batting talent of Pat Cummins (41), and the pair combined for 93 runs for the eighth wicket before Anderson again found the right line for another LBW wicket, dismissing Cummins.
Nathan Lyon emerged for a slog before being dismissed for a three-ball 4, skying a catch to Moeen Ali as Smith called time on the innings to declare at 9-662 — a lead of 259.
Having taken their time to declare the innings with the threat of rain lurking in the background, Australia's pacemen wasted no time in getting down to business, dismissing both England openers cheaply.
Mark Stoneman was first to go, caught behind off Josh Hazlewood (2-23) for just 3, before a magnificent caught-and-bowled effort from Hazlewood dismissed the struggling Alastair Cook for 14.
Joe Root (14) and James Vince (55) looked set to offer some resistance, but Root was dismissed almost out of the blue as he edged Lyon (1-28) off the keeper's gloves through to Smith at slip.
Vince was good value a half-century featuring a number of textbook drives, but he fell just five runs over the milestone when he saw his middle and off stumps cleaned up by a wickedly-deviating Starc jaffer.
More rain is forecast for day five, which will put a spring in the step of the English fans hoping to keep the series alive until Melbourne.
The post Rain halts Australia's drive for Ashes victory in Perth appeared first on News Wire Now.