England's evening counter-attack ended a positive opening day in their attempts to regain the Ashes from Australia.
Wicketkeeper Matt Prior struck 56 and returning all-rounder Andrew Flintoff crashed a swift 37 to help Andrew Strauss' men to 336 for seven at the close in Cardiff.
Prior and Flintoff shared a stand of 86 in 16 overs before both were bowled off inside edges by Peter Siddle in consecutive overs.
However, their alliance altered the momentum of a first npower Test which ebbed and flowed after Kevin Pietersen's moment of madness.
Pietersen top scored with 69 but perished in the evening session when a pre-meditated sweep led to the softest of dismissals.
Setting himself for the shot, Pietersen scooped a wide delivery from Nathan Hauritz into the hands of Simon Katich at short-leg.
His departure quickly followed that of fourth-wicket partner Paul Collingwood for 64.
Collingwood was well held by wicketkeeper Brad Haddin, diving to his right, to hand Ben Hilfenhaus a second success and halt a 138-run stand for the fourth wicket.