Gloucestershire 292 (Charlesworth 71, Harris 52, Patel 5-113, Potts 3-43) and 181 for 6 (Harris 71*) need another 244 runs to beat Durham 445 (Clark 100, de Leede 65, Coughlin 59*, Borthwick 53) and 272 for 4 dec (Jones 121*)
did his prospects of featuring in the upcoming Ashes series no harm at all as Durham put Gloucestershire under the pump on the day three of the LV=County Championship match at Bristol's Seat Unique Stadium.
On a day when Sussex paceman Ollie Robinson joined Joffra Archer and Jimmy Anderson on the treatment table, Potts claimed 2 for 21 in an impressive five-over burst with the new ball to issue a timely reminder to the England selectors.
Building on a first-innings lead of 153, Durham posted 272 for 4 declared second time around thanks to a fine innings of 121 not out by Michael Jones
and a quickfire half century from Ollie Robinson, setting Gloucestershire a notional victory target of 426 in 142 overs on a deteriorating pitch.
Potts then went to work, removing left-handers Chris Dent and Ben Charlesworth with successive deliveries in the third over to commence a slide which saw Gloucestershire subside to 58 for 4. Although Marcus Harris proved cussed in registering 71 not out to see the home side through to 181 for 6 at the close, they still trail by 244 and, with the weather set fair for the final day, the overwhelming likelihood is that Durham will complete a fourth victory in six outings to cement their position at the top of the Second Division.
Given that Archer has already been ruled out of contention for the remainder of the summer and Anderson continues to be troubled by a groin strain, news that Robinson had sustained an ankle injury and been unable to take the field for Sussex against Glamorgan at Hove after lunch, served to further propel the 24-year-old Sunderland-born paceman back into the international reckoning.
With England's first-choice seamers dropping like flies, opportunity could yet come knocking for Potts, who has now claimed 28 wickets in five red-ball outings since early April. Certainly, he was too much for Dent and Charlesworth, the former caught behind and the other wafting outside off stump and nicking to third slip as Gloucestershire made the worst possible start to their second innings.
Miles Hammond survived the hat-trick ball, but did not last much longer, nicking Ben Raine to first slip, while Jack Taylor was lured onto the front foot by Ajaz Patel and stumped for a first-ball duck as the home side slipped to 58 for 4.
Eager to press his claims for inclusion in the Australia team to face India in the ICC World Test Championship final at The Oval next month, Harris held up Durham's victory charge with his second half century of the match, going to that landmark via 89 balls. He was at last afforded the support his efforts deserved when joined by Bracey, who contributed 50 from 78 balls in a fifth wicket partnership of 92.
But Gloucestershire's stand-in captain blotted his copybook when nicking a delivery from Scott Borthwick to leg slip, while Zafar Gohar danced down the track to Patel and was comprehensively stumped for 11 to leave Durham on the cusp of an inside-the-distance triumph.
Potts had earlier wrapped up Gloucestershire's first innings on 292, clean bowling Ajeet Singh Dale for 15 to finish with 3 for 43. Josh Shaw remained unbeaten on 37, smashing 3 sixes and a brace of fours to dominate a last-wicket stand of 65.
With a declaration figure already in mind, Durham were understandably eager to score quickly and Jones and Alex Lees obliged in a progressive opening stand of 119 in 27.1 overs. The pick of the Gloucestershire bowlers, Singh Dale troubled both openers in a venomous new-ball spell before retiring to the pavilion with an injured knee. Jones in particular cashed in, twice carting Zafar over mid-wicket for six and meting out the same treatment to Matt Taylor as he went to 50 from 73 balls.
Depleted Gloucestershire continued to fight hard and debutant Zaman Akhter generated a head of steam from the Ashley Down Road End to bowl Lees for 40, while Zafar pinned Borthwick lbw for two to briefly slow northern progress. David Bedingham scored 29 from 26 balls in a rapid stand of 56 for the third wicket before coming forward to Shaw and guiding a leading edge to cover with the score on 178.
Unperturbed by goings-on at the other end, Jones simply kept going, raising three figures for the first time this season with his ninth four, a cut to the square leg boundary at the expense of Zafar, who was struggling to exert any control. Aided and abetted by 5 sixes, Jones' second 50 occupied just 54 balls.
Robinson scored at an even brisker pace, rushing to 50 via 25 balls with all but four of those runs coming by way of boundaries as dot balls became a rarity. Without the protection of scoreboard pressure, spinners Zafar and Jack Taylor suffered horribly, conceding at 6.36 and 9.25 an over respectively.
By the time Robinson overbalanced and was stumped for 67 off the bowling of Zafar, Durham were ready to spare Gloucestershire's hard-pressed bowlers further punishment by declaring. Robinson's whirlwind innings comprised 36 balls and included 9 fours and 3 sixes, while Jones finished unbeaten on 121 from 148 deliveries, with 11 fours and 5 sixes. Their fourth wicket alliance yielded 94 runs in just 10.1 overs.