Gloucestershire 18 for 0 trail Northamptonshire 333 (Rossington 95, Willey 62, Miles 6-63) by 315 runs
Adam Rossington underpinned Northamptonshire's efforts with a fine 95 to help them reach 333 all out against Gloucestershire. Rossington arrived at the crease with the hosts on 132 for 4, but his 98-ball knock, with 16 fours and a six propelled Northants towards their decent total.
The visitors had Craig Miles to thank for a career-best 6 for 63, while Gareth Roderick's six catches equalled the Gloucestershire record for dismissals by a wicketkeeper in an innings.
Put in by Geraint Jones in his first match as Gloucestershire captain, Northamptonshire enjoyed a profitable opening hour although Stephen Peters was dropped in James Fuller's third over by Hamish Marshall.
Richard Levi showed the early dominance they enjoyed as he clipped Liam Norwell for two leg-side sixes in his opening over. The pair put on 59 for the first wicket until Levi edged to Roderick down the leg side off Miles' first delivery for 29.
Peters departed in the following over for 27 and when Rob Newton fell cheaply, Northants had lost three wickets inside 26 balls for five runs. New four-day captain Alex Wakely and Rob Keogh steadied the innings to Northants at 89 for 3 at lunch. In all, they added 58 for the fourth wicket before New Zealander Kieran Noema-Barnett removed Keogh for his first wicket in Gloucestershire colours.
Two more wickets soon followed - Wakely for 31 and new recruit Josh Cobb for a second-ball duck - to leave Northants on 162 for 6 and the visitors on top. But this was the point where Rossington and new vice-captain David Willey threatened to take the game away from Gloucestershire.
In 12 overs before tea, the pair blasted 82 runs with Rossington - signed from Middlesex on a permanent deal in the winter - particularly quick on anything short. Willey began cautiously as if inspired by his new role, but the England Lions allrounder quickened noticeably with 14 taken off one Norwell over.
Northants were 244 for 6 at tea and the pair threatened similar in the evening session. Having added 127 for the seventh wicket, Willey was caught behind for 62 off 57 balls and then Rossington was left five short off his third first-class century when he mistimed to Roderick off Miles for his sixth catch. The 23-year-old would take no more catches but knew of the record now shared by seven wicketkeepers. It was only appropriate that Miles returned to remove the final batsman Azharullah for 8, having outshone every other bowler
"I was aware I was on the verge of breaking a club record and I was really hoping the elusive seventh wicket would come my way," Roderick said. "Overall, we hit the deck hard at times, but we allowed them to get around 80 runs."
With Northamptonshire 333 all out, Will Tavare and Chris Dent calmly negotiated 6.3 overs before bad light intervened to leave this game finely poised, but Rossington believes Northants are in a useful position. "It was extremely windy out there but once you got used to the conditions, it was a good pitch to bat on," he said. "We lost wickets in clusters and that was disappointing but a couple of partnerships have put us in a strong position and if we hit the deck hard first thing on Monday, we'll be looking to get them out for under 300."