Jonny Bairstow made an unbeaten 97 and Mark Wood 52 in a 95-run eighth-wicket partnership which lifted England to 290-8 at stumps Friday on the first day of the second Test against New Zealand.
The pair helped mask the deficiencies of an England batting lineup which earlier had been exposed by Tim Southee, who took 5-60.
England were 164-7 when wicketkeeper Bairstow and recalled fast bowler Wood came together early in the final session and 259-8 when Wood was out 79 minutes later, having completed his first test half century and added 20 runs to his previous highest score.
Bairstow put on a further 31 runs in an unbroken stand for the ninth wicket with Jack Leach who was 10 not out at stumps on test debut. He came to the last over of the day at 97 not out, approaching four hours at the crease, and wasn't to be hurried as his fifth test century beckoned, playing out a maiden and leaving the milestone to Saturday.
For most of the day, New Zealand held the upper hand through the efforts of its new-ball pair Southee and Trent Boult who shared the eight wickets which fell Friday. Southee completed his seventh five-wicket bag in tests and Boult finished with 3-79.
"It was a tough day and obviously ebbed and flowed throughout the day," Southee said. "It would be nice to come back tomorrow and wrap up these last two but they've shown some great fight today.
"The wicket got a bit easier and we hoped the second new ball might have done a bit more. But it's a good sign that if we can get these two wickets early there's no demons left in that pitch."
Boult and Southee swung the match in New Zealand's favor when they took three wickets for two runs at the start of the second session.
After captain Joe Root and opener Mark Stoneman helped England recover from the loss of Alastair Cook (2) and James Vince (18) to be 93-2, England suffered a sudden slump, losing Root at 93-3, Dawid Malan, first ball at 94-4 and Stoneman (35) at 94-5.
Christchurch-born all-rounder Ben Stokes and Bairstow led the recovery, putting on 57 for sixth wicket but England's fortunes nose-dived again when they lost Stokes (25) and Stuart Broad (5) at the start of the final session.
But Bairstow rallied the tail, which was a long one after all-rounder Moeen Ali and fast bowler Chris Woakes were dropped in response to England's loss by an innings and 49 runs in the first test at Auckland.
That left Broad to bat at eight and created what seemed a long tail with only Wood, Leach and James Anderson to come. But the tailenders proved more resilient than expected as Bairstow reached his 18th test half century from 93 balls and Wood followed him from 54 balls with seven fours and a six.
The pair shored up the England innings which had been listing badly when Root, Malan and Stoneman fell in quick succession at the start of the second session.
All three paid the price for the diffident footwork again the swinging ball which has been evident in England's batting through the series.
Root was bowled by Southee for 37 and Malan was out lbw to Boult for a first ball duck. Stoneman had batted 160 minutes for 35 when he was caught at slip off Southee, who made good use of the three quarter delivery which gripped the pitch at Hagley Oval and moved late.
Stokes looked to be the man to lead the England comeback but he was caught down the leg side by wicketkeeper B.J. Watling off Boult.
Earlier, Cook was dismissed by Boult for the third time in the series and the eighth time in his career, bowled by a ball which was full and straightened enough to miss the outside edge before hitting off stump.
Vince had a run of success with the decision review system, surviving two appeals for lbw and one for caught behind, before he fell to lbw to Southee.