Somerset live to fight another day after a career best innings from Richard Johnson who blasted his way to an unbeaten 106 to keep the Cidermen's hopes alive in their opening county championship of the season at Bristol on Friday.

After an impressive bowling display the Cidermen then fell foul of Gloucester quickie Jonathan Lewis before recovering to end the day on 175 for 6, thanks to an unbeaten seventh wicket stand of 139 between Johnson and Rob Turner who made 33.

Earlier the Somerset pacemen had given their supporters plenty to cheer about when they dismissed the `old enemy' for 203.

After winning the toss and batting openers Phil Weston and Craig Spearman batted cautiously against the opening attack of Nixon McLean and Johnson.

Spearman survived a difficult early chance but was not so lucky when Mike Burns took a good slip catch off McLean.

Aaron Laraman, who came on in place of McLean then struck in the 17th over when he trapped Weston LBW which brought new signing Jonty Rhodes to the wicket.

The South African Test player moved the score along quickly and played some attractive shots, but just when he started to look threatening hit Johnson into the air towards square leg where Peter Bowler took the catch.

Following the lunch break Simon Francis enjoyed considerable success, and with a spell of 3 for 41 helped to reduce the hosts to 143 for 7.

Roger Sillence and Ian Fisher put on 53 before their eighth wicket stand was eventually broken by Johnson, who also disposed of last man Mike Smith.

The pacemen had done their job well, with Francis and Johnson ending with three wickets a piece and McLean bagging two wickets on his championship debut for the county.

The Somerset reply got off to the worst possible of starts when Peter Bowler was given out LBW to the third ball of the innings that was bowled by Jon Lewis.

Worse was to follow when Marcus Trescothick, who was playing his first innings since returning from the World Cup, was bowled after facing just three balls.

Somerset were reeling, and matters were compounded when skipper Burns was bowled by Lewis with the score on 8.

New boy James Bryant came in and got off the mark with a fine off drive, but Jamie Cox perished shortly afterwards when he edged a ball from Lewis to Jack Russell who pouched the chance, and in doing so set a new wicket-keeping record of 1017 dismissals for Gloucestershire.

With Ian Blackwell being unable to bat after splitting the webbing of his left hand when he took a catch, Turner came in next to join Bryant, who soon became another of the veteran keepers victims. In the same over the unlucky Laraman followed in similar fashion to see the Cidermen reduced to 37 for 6.

Johnson joined Turner and hit two very welcome boundaries to relieve the tension In the same over he brought up the 50 and then to next ball avoided the follow on.

The Somerset bowler then went onto blast his way to a half century, that included taking 25 off one over from Mark Alleyne.

In a short space of time Johnson turned the game around and moved to his maiden century in typical fashion with a six, after facing 75 balls, hitting 4x6's and 17x4's.

With the honours evenly balanced the large Bank Holiday crowd went home happy with tomorrow promising to be another interesting days play.

At the end of the day skipper Mike Burns said: "We bowled very well this morning, but then we didn't bat well early on until Rob Turner and Richard Johnson got us back into the game. `Johnno' has got a real talent and the way he batted was exactly what we needed."

Coach Kevin Shine said: "This was a roller coaster of a day. There were some things I was very pleased about and some that I wasn't. `Johnno's' innings was one of the most exciting that I have every seen, and tomorrow with Ian Blackwell being able to bat we will be looking to build a lead because every run is going to be important."