First Division leaders Durham are on course to claim their sixth win of the season – despite a stunning burst of four wickets in 15 balls from Sussex seamer Steve Magoffin.
The Australian blew away Durham’s top order as they lurched to 13-4 before Scott Borthwick and Gordon Muchall led a spirited fightback on the second day of the LV= County Championship match at Arundel as Durham reached 168-6 at stumps, a lead of 268.
Borthwick contributed 74, including nine fours and a six, to a fifth-wicket stand of 118.
The pitch continued to offer seam movement, particularly from the Park End, but Sussex were unable to build on the platform established by Magoffin.
He had to share the workload with loanee Tim Linley because Ajmal Shahzad was unable to bowl because of injury, and when they were out of the attack Borthwick and Muchall were able to ease their side into a strong position.
Borthwick contributed 74, including nine fours and a six, to a fifth-wicket stand of 118 while Muchall reached stumps unbeaten on 66 to add to his 81 in the first innings.
For injury-hit Sussex it was another chastening day.
Bowled out for 201 in their first innings, they had to employ three substitute fielders including strength and conditioning coach Nick Lee and club coach Carl Hopkinson at one stage as Chris Nash and, briefly, Luke Wright had to go off.
At least Magoffin’s spell kept spirits up.
He started by having Mark Stoneman taken at slip and Keaton Jennings by wicketkeeper Ben Brown in his first over before nipping good-length balls back to bowl Paul Collingwood (two) and Michael Richardson (nought).
But as Durham established a winning position in the evening session their only other successes came when leg-spinner Luke Wells turned one past Borthwick’s defences and Linley knocked back Ryan Pringle’s off stump for 15.
Earlier, Chris Rushworth had taken his tally of first-class victims this season to 52 with six for 49 as Durham established a first-innings lead of 100.
They might have had an even bigger advantage had Sussex’s last two wickets not added 66 with on-loan George Dockrell’s unbeaten 37 ushering them to an unlikely batting bonus point.
Bowling from the Park End which Magoffin employed to devastating effect later in the day, Rushworth benefitted from a surface also showing signs of occasional low bounce.
Having removed both openers on the first day, Rushworth picked up Luke Wright when he nibbled fatally outside off stump before claiming Nash (16) and Shahzad (15) in successive overs of his second spell just before lunch.
The Durham seam attack had established a stranglehold by then.
Keaton Jennings produced a superb one-handed catch at short midwicket to remove Matt Machan (21) and give Graham Onions the first of two wickets while Sussex skipper Ed Joyce spoiled a solid start when he slashed to point off John Hastings for 23.
With Ben Brown held at slip off Paul Coughlin, Sussex were in danger of being asked to follow on at 135 for eight.
But Dockrell organised some spirited tail-end resistance with Magoffin (14), who edged to slip to become Rushworth’s sixth victim, and Linley (10), with whom he added 40 for the last wicket before a miscued pull off Onions went to mid-wicket.