ENGLAND failed to bat out even the opening hour of the fourth day of the third Test at the WACA as Australia claimed the five wickets they needed to level the series at 1-1.

Ryan Harris took four of the wickets to fall, returning career-best figures of six for 47, as England were bowled out for 123 to suffer a crushing 267-run defeat.

Australia had done most of the damage on the third evening, when England slumped to 81 for five chasing 391 for a victory that would have seen the tourists retain the Ashes.

But Harris quickly extinguished any hopes of an unlikely England fightback as he collected his first five-wicket haul in Test cricket.

Ian Bell was under way with a majestic cover-drive on the up off Harris, and soon climbed into a cut for another boundary off the same bowler.

But the seamer wasted little time before proving he was too good for James Anderson - knocking out off stump when the nightwatchman was stuck on the back foot to a delivery which perhaps kept a shade low.

New batsman Matt Prior at least brought up the England hundred with a mistimed hook for six almost directly over the wicketkeeper's head off Harris.

Mitchell Johnson, the destroyer of England's first innings, was still bowling well enough to beat Bell more than once on the outside edge.

England's in-form batsman responded with more handsome driving through the offside, only to play around a straight one from Harris.

The failed attempt to overturn the lbw decision on DRS was an understandable but desperate measure.

Just two balls later, England's modicum of resistance was broken for good when Harris got one to rear up at Prior - who could not ride the bounce and was smartly caught by a diving Mike Hussey in the gully.

Defeat moved closer still in the next over when Johnson claimed his ninth wicket of the match by bowling Graeme Swann off an inside edge as he tried to drive.

Harris then sealed the victory when he induced an edge from Steven Finn that looped to Steven Smith at third slip.