AUSTRALIAN captain Mark Taylor launched a stunning fightback in the third Test yesterday after his England counterpart Mike Atherton appeared poised for a rare victory. After being set a seemingly unattainable victory target of 449, Taylor launched an assault on the English bowling at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Australia, who lead the series 2-0 and need only a draw to retain the Ashes, were 139 for no wicket at close of play on the fourth day, still needing 310 for victory. After dominating the opening three days, England still hold the advantage going into today's final day despite Australia's fine recovery. Statistically, the odds remain firmly in the tourists' favour. Only two teams in Test history have scored more than 400 in their second innings to win. Australia reached 404 against England at Headingley in 1948 and India made 406 to beat West Indies at Port of Spain in 1975-76. But the ease with which Taylor and opening partner Michael Slater accumulated their runs during the final session must have worried the England camp. Taylor ended the day on 64 after hitting seven fours from 106 balls. The New South Wales opener was marginally more aggressive than Slater, who faced 18 more balls to score an unbeaten 65, including eight fours. Atherton declared England's second innings at 255 for two 40 minutes before tea, stranding number three batsman Graeme Hick on 98 not out. Atherton's decision denied Hick a maiden Test century against Australia. The Worcestershire batsman failed make a run off what turned out to be the last three balls of the over from Damien Fleming. Hick, whose previous highest score against Australia was his 80 at The Oval last year, hit one six and 10 fours from 166 balls. He declined to speak to reporters. Left-hander Graham Thorpe was the other not out batsman on 47. Resuming on 90 for one, England built their lead with ease during the morning session before Atherton fell to Fleming for 67 as he tried to increase the scoring rate.