Essex 76 and 247 for 5 (Lawrence 101, Bopara 57) lead Hampshire 254 by 69 runs
Fidel Edwards produced a brutal evening spell of fast bowling to take two vital wickets on a rain affected third day between Hampshire and Essex in the Specsavers County Championship.
West Indian speed demon Edwards bowled a six over stint of 2 for 15 after Dan Lawrence had calmly notched his third century of the season.
The truncated day ended with Essex leading by 69 with five second innings wickets still in hand to set up an intriguing final day.
Hampshire head coach Craig White said: "Those 12 overs were a nice bonus. It was a long day waiting and we sensed a perfect opportunity there it was the perfect time to bowl and we got two crucial wickets.
"Fidel has had a stop start season with injuries and has never really got going. He has got a good rhythm at the moment and when he gets going he is still a class bowler."
Only eight unproductive overs, with only 18 runs added, were able to be completed before rain washed out the majority of the day. But following a quick clean up from the groundsmen, play resumed at 5.20pm for a 12 over burst.
Having taken the new ball in the last two overs before the rain, Edwards stuck with just the third delivery after the re-start. Ravi Bopara had battled hard alongside Lawrence to put on 147 and drag Essex into a lead. But the former England all-rounder edged to James Vince at second slip off a beautifully shaped away swinger.
Lawrence rode his luck with plays and misses on day two, 45 of them according to Hampshire's analysts, but took to thick edges through third man to close in on his three figures. He eventually completed his seventh first class ton from 207 balls with a firm push down the ground.
But after facing just two more deliveries Edwards produced a ferocious bouncer to find the England Lions man's glove to have him caught behind.
Jamie Porter entered with six overs to go as a night watchman and he, along with captain Ryan ten Doeschate negotiated Essex to the close without a further dismissal.