Chris Roger scored a record-equalling seventh consecutive half-century but England hold a slender advantage over Australia after taking five of the tourists' first innings wickets on day two at the Swalec Stadium.
Rogers became the fifth player in Test history to string together seven fifties but the first to complete the feat without scoring a century after he was dismissed for 95 after becoming Mark Wood's maiden Ashes scalp.
After James Anderson dismissed David Warner (17), Moeen Ali followed his quick-fire 77, which helped England slalom to 430 all out after adding 87 runs in the morning, with the wickets of Steven Smith (33) and Michael Clarke (38).
Adam Voges (31) and Shane Watson (29 not out) put on 51 for the fifth wicket but the former was dismissed 10 minutes before the close to give England the edge going into day three where Australia will resume on 262 for 5, 166 runs behind the hosts.
On a surface which continues to offer little for the bowlers, Mitchell Starc took 5 for 114 in the England innings but Mitchell Johnson's problems continued he finished wicketless after conceding 106 runs; his worst Test career figures.
Hoping to build on their overnight total of 343 for 7, England continued with the attacking brand of batting which defined their approach on day one.
Ali was at his flowing best with a flurry of boundaries off Johnson, who brought up his century much to the delight of the Cardiff crowd, and reached his half century off 69 balls.
Partner Stuart Broad meanwhile, who had been targeted by Australia following his form since suffering a broken nose against India last summer, continued to be peppered but did benefit from some erratic lengths when he hooked a six through mid-wicket.
Broad was almost dismissed on 11 when he looped a Johnson bouncer into the air but Voges was unable to take the catch at short leg, despite the umpires needing television replays to make a decision.
The England seamer added just seven more before taking a huge swipe at Nathan Lyon's first ball and he bottom edged the ball straight to Brad Haddin for 18.
The dismissal did nothing to disrupt Ali however as he continued to plunder the boundaries until he was finally dismissed 23 runs short of his century, as he edged to Watson off Starc.
And 13 balls later the resistance was ended as Starc bowled Anderson (1), leaving Wood (7) not out on an England all out for 430 having put on 87 in the morning.
Australia had 40 minutes before lunch to negotiate but in the second over after the break England thought they had the breakthrough as Warner was given out lbw for 13, but a review saw the decision overturned after Anderson's delivery pitched outside leg stump.
Four overs later Warner was given his marching orders off Anderson as Alastair Cook clung on to a superb catch at first slip.
New man Smith almost followed as he edged his third ball to the slips but it fell short of Cook, who took a nasty blow and required medical attention.
Rogers meanwhile was being typically stubborn at the other end, combining resilience with occasional expansive stroke-play.
The Middlesex opener went to his half-century as the sun continue to shine in the Welsh capital and became just the seventh player to make seven fifties in consecutive innings.
But his in-form partner was unable to follow Rogers' lead as Smith got himself into a tangle in Ali's sixth over and he merely chipped the ball to Cook at silly mid-on, to end a partnership worth 77.
A pitch which appeared slow on day one continued to be hospitable for batting and Rogers continued on his merry way into the tea session with Australia eating into England's lead.
Rogers had failed to convert his fifty into a century in each of his last six innings and that would soon become seven as he edged Wood behind for 95. The Sydney-born opener is now the only player to make score seven straight half centuries without going on to score a hundred.
Clarke followed for 38 as he hit Ali right back down his throat as England sensed the initiative on day two but another Ashes debutant in Voges and Watson looked set to steer Australia to the close without further alarm.
However, Voges hit Ben Stokes straight to Anderson at cover to ensure that England ended day three as the marginally happier of the two sides.