The tourists' pacemen finally found the right length, taking 4-59 in the morning session to end Australia's first innings.
The Aussies then fumbled their chance for an early breakthrough when Alastair Cook was dropped by a diving Steve Smith at third slip off the bowling of Ryan Harris in the third over.
Michael Carberry is unbeaten on six with Cook on 17.
Smith (111) and Mitchell Johnson (39) fell in the first five overs on Saturday after Australia resumed on 6-326.
The home side had been in early trouble at 5-143 before Smith added 124 with Brad Haddin (55).
Smith and opener David Warner (60) were the only two batsmen in Australia's top six to reach 25.
No.11 Nathan Lyon was struck on the helmet by a bouncer from Tim Bresnan but finished unbeaten on 17, adding 31 for the last wicket with Peter Siddle (21).
James Anderson (2-60) took two of the four wickets to fall in an improvement on his first-day showing while Stuart Broad was the stand-out with 3-100.
England bowling coach David Saker expressed his confidence on Friday night that England could fight back from a poor opening day.
"We went to the short ball probably too much," he said.
"No doubt we let it slip.
"It's probably not the first time this series as well we've had them on the ropes, to a degree, and we haven't finished the job."
England trail two-nil in the five-match series and defeat in Perth would mean Australia regain the Ashes.
Smith says the Aussies will learn from England's mistakes.
"They might have bowled a little bit short in patches. When we come out and bowl we're going to be a yard fuller than what they are," Smith said.
AUSTRALIA FIRST INNINGS
C ROGERS run out (Anderson) 11 (9)
D WARNER c Carberry b Swann 60 (77)
S WATSON c Swann b Broad 18 (29)
M CLARKE c Cook b Swann 24 (44)
S SMITH c Prior b Anderson 111 (208)
G BAILEY c Pietersen b Broad 7 (12)
B HADDIN c Anderson b Stokes 55 (100)
M JOHNSON c Prior b Broad 39 (62)
P SIDDLE c Prior b Bresnan 21 (36)
R HARRIS c Root b Anderson 12 (19)
N LYON not out 17 (25)
Sundries (6lb 3w 1nb) 10
Fall: 13 (Rogers), 52 (Watson), 106 (Clarke), 129 (Warner), 143 (Bailey), 267 (Haddin), 326 (Johnson), 338 (Smith), 354 (Harris), 385 (Siddle).
Bowling: J Anderson 23-5-60-2 (1w), S Broad 22-2-100-3 (1w), T Bresnan 23.3-4-81-1, B Stokes 17-3-63-1 (1w 1nb), G Swann 17-0-71-2, J Root 1-0-4-0.
ENGLAND FIRST INNINGS
A COOK not out 17 (29)
M CARBERRY not out 6 (8)
Sundries (1nb) 1
No wickets for 24
Bowling: R Harris 3-1-5-0, M Johnson 2-0-15-0 (1nb), S Watson 1-0-4-0.
Batting time: 26 mins. Overs: 6.
Umpires: Billy Bowden (NZL), Marais Erasmus (RSA).