Sussex order too tall for Essex
Sussex 209 for 6 (Nash 52, Gatting 45*) beat Essex 190 (Foster 47, Liddle 3-35)
Sussex won a high-scoring game by 19 runs against Essex at Hove to go clear at the top of the Friends Life t20 South Group.
Chris Nash made 52 and Joe Gatting 45 not out as Sussex set a daunting total of 209 for 6, the second highest in the competition this season. Some big hitting from Mark Pettini (44) and James Foster (47) kept Essex in contention but they fell short in the end, with Chris Liddle taking 3 for 35.
Sussex's former Essex player Scott Styris took the Man of the Match award after making a quickfire 36 and claiming 2 for 28.
Luke Wright and Nash set the tone by smashing 21 runs off the second over from Graham Napier as Sussex raced to 74-0 after the six-over Powerplay. Wright carried on where he left off against Middlesex on Friday night when he made 91 as he hit sixes off David Masters and Napier before slapping a full toss from Ryan ten Doeschate straight to long off for 40 off 21 balls.
The departure of Wright did not slow the scoring rate, however, as Nash and Styris continued to take the attack to Essex. Nash made his runs from 41 balls, including two fours and two sixes, before being stumped by a smart piece of work by Foster off a leg-side wide from ten Doeschate.
Styris enjoyed himself against his old side as he crashed sixes off ten Doeschate and Reece Topley before being caught in the deep for 36 off 20 balls. Gatting ensured Sussex's innings did not lose momentum as he hit a career-best score from just 22 balls, including four fours and two sixes, as the Sharks posted their second-highest total ever in the competition.
Essex made a slow start in reply but remained in contention thanks to Pettini, who made 44 off 31 balls. The Eagles were well behind the run rate at halfway on 74 for 2 but some powerful hitting from Greg Smith and Foster gave them hope of pulling off a sensational win.
Smith hit three sixes in his 26-ball 39 before being bowled by Will Beer while Foster hit four sixes in a row to reduce the deficit to 25 off the final over but Essex's hopes disappeared when their captain was caught on the boundary with three balls to go.