Durham 372 and 366 for 7 dec beat Sussex 218 and 312 by 208 runs

Durham's County Championship title ambitions have been kept alive by a 208-run victory against Sussex at Hove. In their penultimate game of the campaign, Durham bowled Sussex out for 312 in their second innings by 2.16pm on the final day to go top of Division One with 211 points.

Durham do not play in next week's round of matches, in which close rivals Lancashire and Warwickshire - each with a game in hand - take on Hampshire and Nottinghamshire respectively, but they then have a home game against Worcestershire in the final week of the Championship.

Matt Prior stroked a brilliant 77 for Sussex but Ian Blackwell struck a vital blow for Durham by having him leg-before in a five-wicket haul, and Graham Onions hurried Durham to their seventh win of the season with a burst down the Hove slope immediately after lunch which brought him the wickets of Wayne Parnell and Amjad Khan in quick succession.

Onions took three for 49 overall, and slow left-armer Blackwell added three more victims to his two overnight wickets to finish with well-deserved figures of 5 for 102.

Defeat for Sussex drags them further into the relegation picture. Left-hander Parnell edged a fine ball angled across him by Onions to keeper Phil Mustard, who then also took the catch when Khan touched a legside delivery.

Parnell had hit a bright and breezy 49-ball 44, in an eighth-wicket stand of 65 with Ben Brown, holding Durham up after they had earlier worked hard to split Sussex's sixth wicket pair of Prior and Mike Yardy.

Sussex had resumed on 119 for four and nightwatchman Jimmy Anyon was dismissed in the sixth over of the morning, well held at short leg by Mark Stoneman off Mitch Claydon. But Prior and Yardy, both looking to play their shots, saw off Claydon and Onions before also taking the attack to Durham's spinners, Blackwell and Scott Borthwick.

Leg spinner Borthwick received some particularly heavy punishment, Prior twice driving him past mid on for fours and also hitting him beautifully through extra cover, while Yardy swept him powerfully as they took their partnership to 71.

Blackwell, however, finally got the breakthrough after being switched to the Cromwell Road end and winning an lbw shout against Prior when the England Test wicketkeeper tried to flick a ball away to fine leg and missed. Prior's 77 had taken him only 88 balls and included 15 fours.

Yardy was the next to go for 34, superbly held at silly mid off by Will Smith from bat and pad as he pushed forward to Blackwell, but the Brown-Parnell alliance took Sussex through to lunch at 274 for 7. Parnell, who had edged Onions between keeper and first slip for his sixth four earlier in the over, then fell with the total at 287 and the end came soon after last man Monty Panesar, to the delight of a decent Hove crowd, had swept and clubbed Blackwell for three leg-side sixes.

Blackwell had the last laugh, though, when Panesar aimed another violent blow and was bowled for 18. Durham took 23 points from the game, and Sussex four.