Trego retort fires up Somerset
Somerset 176 for 4 (Trego 71*, Hildreth 63*) trail Sussex 202 (Wright 51, Thomas 4-46) by 32 runs
Peter Trego decided attack was the best form of defence as he rode his luck to forge an enterprising partnership of 140 with James Hildreth to put Somerset just 32 behind Sussex with six wickets intact.
Trego, who finished unbeaten on 71, admitted a sledge from a Sussex fielder gave him the incentive to go for his shots after a tricky spell before tea in which Somerset slumped to 36 for 4 in helpful bowling conditions.
Resuming after the break in the best batting weather of the day, the tattooed all-rounder led a charmed life and at times seemed to be living by the mantra if you're going to flash, flash hard.
"When I first went out they were bowling very well and I was struggling," said Trego, "but fortunately one of their younger players had a crack at me which got my adrenalin flowing and got my hackles up a little bit and I'm still there scrapping at the end of the day, so thanks to him for that.
"A few lusty eyes-closed swipes took the hardness out of the ball and things gradually became easier."
Trego kept the scoreboard rattling along in stark contrast to the almost funeral pace of the first two sessions, which were heavily interrupted by the weather.
He brought up his half-century by crunching the ball off the back foot to the cover boundary, shortly after going down on one knee and slog sweeping Ashar Zaidi into the Somerset Stand for six. It was an exhilarating innings which brought the crowd to life and regained the initiative.
Hildreth was comfortably outscored at the other end, but started to accelerate as he approached his half-century, reaching his milestone off 84 balls with six fours and one six which he upper cut over third man.
Trego said afterwards that the match was now on something of a knife-edge on an excellent cricket wicket which offered something for everyone with swing, movement off the surface, pace and bounce and turn.
The picture was very different before tea though as Somerset lost three wickets in three overs for just three runs, raising the spectre of their humiliating 2013 innings defeat inside two days against the same opposition at Horsham.
It was Steve Magoffin, the architect of the Horsham defeat, who started the slide. He has become something of a nemesis for the Somerset team, boasting an incredible record of 29 wickets at a fraction under 10 apiece in the last four matches between the two sides.
First Magoffin picked up his customary wicket of Marcus Trescothick wafting at one outside off-stump - he has claimed the Somerset captain's wicket six times in his last 10 championship innings between the two sides.
Then when Somerset had moved the score onto 33, Tom Abell, who looked in beautiful touch, got an edge and was caught behind off Ollie Robinson, followed swiftly by Johann Myburgh, who was yorked by Matthew Hobden. Finally Jim Allenby pushed at one well outside off-stump and was caught behind without scoring to give Robinson his second wicket.
Earlier Somerset's seam attack bowled extremely well as a unit, hunting as a pack to keep the pressure on Sussex throughout the morning. Trego said afterwards that they could have probably bowled Sussex out twice given the number of times the ball beat the bat. They made a perfect start to the day in overcast conditions, as Magoffin succumbed to the pressure the bowlers had built up and flashed at one outside off from Thomas.
Zaidi and Luke Wright then ground out a 48-partnership in 21 overs either side of lunch. It was a stand of contrasting styles. Zaidi never looked settled and consistently failed to get bat on ball. Like Trego, Wright attacked anything loose or short and played some glorious shots in a half-century which included eight boundaries.
After a tortuous 80 minutes at the crease, Zaidi went for a wild swish at one from Thomas and was caught low down by Michael Bates behind the stumps.
Wright will have been annoyed at getting out to a top edge off a pull shot which gave Lewis Gregory, who yesterday signed a new three-year contract, his 99th first-class wicket in his 33rd match. Two balls later, Hobden offered a routine catch to the excellent Michael Bates and Sussex were all out for 208, having lost their last three wickets for six runs in 2.2 overs to the new ball.