England belatedly got the measure of Steve Smith and Australia, but Ben Stokes was not rueing their slow start to the Ashes.
England lead the fifth and final Ashes Test by 382 runs as they seek to draw the series 2-2.
Joe Denly was closing in on a maiden Test century at tea after the opener and Ben Stokes made Australia toil.
Rory Burns and Ben Stokes fell after lunch, but Joe Root will start the final session of day one at The Oval on 57 after riding his luck.
England have dropped out-of-form Jason Roy for the final Ashes Test, but Joe Root has no doubt the batsman can force his way back in.
England have dropped Jason Roy for the final Ashes Test, with Sam Curran coming in alongside Chris Woakes, who has replaced Craig Overton.
Despite seeing their hopes of winning the Ashes end at Old Trafford, England have opted not to make changes to their squad for the Oval.
Australia were closing in on a win that would ensure they kept the Ashes thanks to Pat Cummins, with Ben Stokes out cheaply.
England stood on the brink of defeat in the fourth Ashes Test as the prolific Steve Smith starred once again.
England are in deep trouble at Old Trafford after Australia reduced them to 278-8 at lunch, trailing by 219 runs on the penultimate day.