Usman Khawaja scored his first Test hundred in over a year and Steve Smith just missed yet another Don Bradman record as Australia reached 277-3 at lunch on the third day of the fifth Ashes Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Resuming at 193-2, Smith and Khawaja extended their partnership to 188 runs before Moeen Ali got the prize breakthrough of Smith moments before lunch, to leave the hosts 69 runs behind England's first-innings total of 346.
At lunch on Saturday, Khawaja was 132 not out, with Shaun Marsh unbeaten on two.
Khawaja's sixth Test century was timely given the 31- year-old hadn't scored a hundred since his 145 against South Africa in Adelaide in November 2016, and questions around his spot in the team had begun to arise after only scoring two 50s in six innings this series.
Resuming on 91, the left-hander answered those doubts emphatically as he calmly guided his way through the 90s to raise his century in the eighth over of the day with a cut off Moeen Ali to backward point for two runs for his maiden Ashes century. It came off 222 balls with seven boundaries and a six.
A clearly relieved Khawaja celebrated by removing his helmet and raising his bat toward his teammates and family seated in the Members Stand at the SCG, before being warmly embraced by Smith.
At the other end, Smith continued to frustrate England as he relentlessly closed in on another century and matching Bradman's 1930 feat of scoring four tons in an Ashes series.
But it wasn't to be today as Ali, who has had a torrid series with bat and ball, teased Smith into chipping a low return catch to give England a boost in a match that was slipping away.
Debutant legspinner Mason Crane thought he had his first test wicket in the last over before lunch, but his review for an lbw on Khawaja showed the bowler had overstepped for a no-ball. To Crane's dismay, replays showed the ball would have
hit the stumps and the review would have been successful had he not overstepped.
England still face the likelihood of a first-innings deficit, despite a strong rally on Friday morning by their lower order which lifted the tourists to a competitive 346, after it had slumped to 233-5 when it lost its last specialist batsman, Dawid Malan (62), early in the session.
Australia then had an early setback in its innings, losing Cameron Bancroft for a duck bowled by Stuart Broad, before half centuries by David Warner and Khawaja helped place the team strongly in its push for a 4-0 series victory.
Australia won the first three tests convincingly to regain the Ashes, and the fourth test was drawn last week in Melbourne.