Hobart: Australia, chasing 241 for victory in their second innings, reached 72 without loss at tea having earlier bowled New Zealand out for 226 on the third day of the second Test on Sunday.
After the start of their innings was delayed by rain, David Warner (47 not out) and Phil Hughes (20 not out), survived a few dicey moments on a wicket still offering plenty for the bowlers to negotiate a path to the break.
Australian paceman Peter Siddle (3-66) and James Pattinson (3-54) bowled superbly in the extended morning session to help restrict the Blacks Caps to just 87 runs at the cost of seven wickets. Spinner Nathan Lyon (3-25) mopped up the tail.
New Zealand, who lost the first Test by nine wickets last week, had resumed on 139 for three looking to build a big lead with a first Test victory on Australian soil since 1985 a realistic target.
Australia struck early with Siddle removing Kane Williamson for 34 with the third ball of the day to break up the New Zealander's 66-run partnership with his skipper Ross Taylor.
Ricky Ponting, wearing a black armband in memory of his grandmother who died overnight, took the catch at slip after Williamson got a thick edge to the ball.
Taylor managed to accrue the 15th half century of his career before departing for 56 when he was finally tempted to attack a wide delivery from Pattinson with Michael Clarke took the catch in the cordon.
Pattinson's next over saw the departure of Dean Brownlie caught behind off his gloves for 21 and when Siddle trapped Reece Young (nine) lbw, New Zealand were clinging on at 190 for seven.
Tim Southee, celebrating his 23rd birthday, slammed Lyon for a six and a four on consecutive balls before pushing his luck too far and holing out to Mike Hussey at long-on for 13.
Two balls later, Lyon bowled Doug Bracewell for four and the 24-year-old again combined with Hussey to end Trent Boult's resistance after the debutant had hit an impressive 21 of 13 balls.
When the rain finally abated after lunch, Hughes survived an immediate scare before he managed to get a run on the board when what looked like a legitimate appeal for a catch off his glove from the bowling of Chris Martin was turned down.
Playing for his place in the side after three failures in the series so far, the lefthander recovered his composure but scored more slowly than Warner at the other end.
Warner, playing in just his second Test, showed more and more of the attacking style that has made him such an effective limited overs player as the session went on to close within three runs of his maiden half century off 50 balls.