Peter Trego and James Hildreth produced an unbroken partnership of 140 as Somerset took a grip on an absorbing LV=County Championship match with Sussex at Taunton.
Having bowled their visitors out for 208 on a second day in which 14 overs were lost to two rain breaks, the hosts plunged to 36 for four on a pitch offering seam movement and some turn.
But Trego (71 not out) and Hildreth (63 not out) then changed the course of the match, batting with increasing confidence as the skies cleared for the final session and taking the total to 176 for four at the close, just 32 behind
Sussex began the day on 145 for six, with Luke Wright unbeaten on nine and shouldering major responsibility for guiding them to a respectable total.
Only nine runs had been added when Steve Magoffin, on five, drove at a ball from Thomas and edged to Marcus Trescothick at second slip to make it 154 for seven.
Ashar Zaidi then showed commendable patience as he and Wright added 48 for the eighth wicket. Zaidi had contributed 14 off 71 balls when finally tempted to flash at a ball from Thomas, nicking it to wicketkeeper Michael Bates.
After all his hard work Wright fell with the total on 208, top edging a pull shot off Lewis Gregory and being caught by Thomas running in from deep mid-wicket.
Wright had faced 109 balls and hit 8 fours. Matt Hobden fell to Thomas (four for 46) with no addition to the score, but Sussex could feel satisfied with their efforts in overcast conditions.
Soon Magoffin was adding to a prolific record against Somerset. He had Marcus Trescothick dropped at first slip before seeing him snapped up by Chris Nash at second, off an edged defensive shot, for eight.
Tom Abell emerged from a watchful start to take two boundaries in quick succession off Robinson, but the fifth ball of the same over saw the young opener edge to wicketkeeper Ben Brown, having made 16.
Steve Magoffin is a quality bowler, who has been a pain our backside on many occasionsPeter Trego
Somerset’s batting has proved fragile this season and they were soon in more trouble as the first ball of the next over was full from Hobden and brought a loud and successful lbw appeal against Johann Myburgh.
Jim Allenby offered scant resistance before being caught behind off Robinson for a duck and at tea Somerset were 60 for four, Hildreth and Trego having survived several alarms.
The Sussex seamers were revelling in the conditions. But the sun finally came out to aid the Somerset batsmen after the interval and it seemed to make all the difference.
Trego played with increasing assurance to reach a 61-ball half-century, with 8 fours and a swept six off left-arm spinner Zaidi, having survived a couple of loud lbw shouts, while Hildreth offered sensible support.
He also moved to a half-century off 84 deliveries, with 6 fours and a six, to continue a hugely productive summer.
Somerset top scorer Peter Trego said: “I always enjoy batting with James Hildreth and we have had some joy with partnerships against Sussex before.
“If we can get a lead of 50-plus tomorrow we will be right in the game. It’s a brilliant cricket pitch with something in it for everyone. Before tea I was making a pig’s ear of my innings, not knowing quite what to do.
“Steve Magoffin is a quality bowler, who has been a pain our backside on many occasions. He has decent pace and moves the ball both ways so I can’t speak highly enough of him.
“A lot of batsmen tend to leave a lot of his deliveries whereas I like to throw my hat in the lottery ring and go after him on basis that if you let him dictate he is going to get you out.”
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