Essex 227 (Harmer 64, Brooks 3-56, Patterson 3-66) and 134 for 2 (Lawrence 75*, Browne 53*) lead Yorkshire 111 (Wagner 3-21, Porter 3-29, Harmer 3-36) by 250 runs
Nick Browne and Dan Lawrence combined for a century third-wicket partnership that laid the foundations to enhance Essex's remaining ambition of going through the Division One season unbeaten.
The pair had put on an unbroken 128 stand to increase the champion county's first-innings lead of 116 to 250 when bad light caused an early finish with eight overs remaining. At that point Browne was 53 from 134 balls and Lawrence 75 from 143.
The Yorkshire bowlers toiled for 48 overs on a wicket that became slower and easier for batting the long the partnership went on. Browne and Lawrence started watchfully after Jack Brooks had removed Varun Chopra and Ravi Bopara in the space of three balls in his second over, both pinned plumb in front, and only six on the board.
It was perhaps fortunate for Yorkshire they had claimed the points necessary to avoid relegation from Division One on day one, as they were dismissed for 111 in 46 overs by mid-afternoon on day two. Jamie Porter, Neil Wagner and Simon Harmer split nine of the wickets equally between themselves. Porter claimed his for 29 runs in 14 overs, Wagner at a personal cost of 21 from nine, and Harmer for 36.
Browne and Lawrence got their heads down for a period of crease occupancy that was initially so obdurate that it was not until Lawrence's 54th ball that he hit his first boundary, crashing Steven Patterson through the covers, to move from five to nine.
The tempo went up noticeably as they approached the fifty partnership, reached in 23 overs, at which point Lawrence struck two fours in an over from Patterson. A flurry of boundaries followed, Lawrence's seventh lofted back over Karl Carver's head before the spinner suffered worse when Lawrence skipped down the wicket and launched a six over long leg.
Lawrence beat Browne to half-a-century, clipping Ben Coad to the long-leg boundary for two. A measure of how his scoring sped up was that he needed just 49 balls to move from five to fifty, reached in 103 balls. The century partnership followed soon after from 36 overs.
Browne's fifty, which included five fours, three of them in two overs from Coad, took slightly longer after he became becalmed in the forties. A pushed single in the onside took him to the mark from 124 balls.
When Yorkshire batted in the morning, Porter made the initial breakthrough on a pitch that had lost some of its spite of the first day. He produced one that nipped in late to remove Kraigg Brathwaite's off-stump with the West Indian aiming through midwicket. Brathwaite had needed 21 balls to get off the mark, driving Porter to the cover boundary for three, but only added another single from the remaining seven deliveries faced.
Adam Lyth showed no respect to Harmer when the off-spinner was introduced into the attack, pulling his first ball for four and lofting the second straight for six. However, three balls later, Alex Lees prodded forward to try and smother any turn and nicked behind to James Foster.
Foster claimed a second catch when a quicker ball from Wagner moved away to end Lyth's 52-ball innings on 35. Seven balls later and the New Zealand Test had a second wicket when he swung one back in to pin Jack Leaning lbw.
Wagner had a hand in Yorkshire's fifth wicket, too. Andrew Hodd straight-drove a full-toss and the bowler deflected on to the stumps with Gary Ballance, on unlucky 13, a foot out of his crease.
Hodd went to the last ball before lunch, lbw to Wagner, before Matt Fisher and Patterson showed some resistance in the nine overs afterwards, while adding just eight runs. That sedate pace was the prelude to three wickets falling in 14 balls.
Porter pinned Patterson lbw, Harmer had Brooks flashing outside off-stump to be snapped up behind, before Fisher exposed his stumps to give Porter a third wicket. The last pair took Yorkshire into three-figures before Harmer had Karl Carver trying to leave one alone, but gloving behind. Porter and Harmer now have 143 Championship wickets between them with one more innings left in which to improve the total.