(CNN) -- Australia's fifth wicket pair of Michael Clarke and Marcus North lifted them into a formidable position by stumps on the third day of the opening Ashes Test in Cardiff.
Clarke and North did a superb job for Australia with a crucial stand.
Clarke and North put on 143 to leave Australia 479 for five wickets when light drizzle brought play to a premature end at Sophia Gardens.
England seamer Chris Broad removed Clarke for 83 to strike a crucial late blow for the home side, but they still trail by 44 runs with the Australians set to take a sizeable first innings lead.
After an earlier rain break, the players came back on the field to play under floodlights for the first time in an Ashes series, the two teams having agreed to the condition of play before the start of the five-Test showdown.
When play was halted for the second time, North was 54 not out with Brad Haddin on four not out.
Earlier, England hit back by removing second day heroes Ricky Ponting and Simon Katich in the morning session.
Australia had resumed overnight on 248 for one wicket, just 186 runs adrift of England and looking to press home their advantage.
But a superb new ball spell from England paceman James Anderson gave the home side renewed hope of victory in the first Test to be played in Wales.
Katich, who had doggedly supported his captain Ponting, was the first to go as Anderson struck with a full-pitched, swinging delivery which trapped the Aussie opener leg before wicket for 122.
Mike Hussey came to the wicket but was unsettled against Anderson and Andrew Flintoff from the start.
He had made just three when he edged Anderson to wicketkeeper Matt Prior.
Ponting was the next to go as the Australian captain, having reached 150, chopped a short ball from Monty Panesar on to his stumps.
Clarke and North took the Australians to the lunch break without further loss and pressed home their advantage as England toiled on a slow pitch offering little hope to the bowlers.
Australia, who hold the Ashes, are narrow favorites to retain cricket's most coveted trophy, but are fielding a team inexperienced in English conditions.