Gloucestershire 136 for 6 (Hammond 48, Currie 2-19, Hunt 2-35) trail Sussex 202 (Haines 62, Carson 56, Taylor 5-24) by 66 runs
Gloucestershire, looking for their first Championship victory of the season, did much of the hard work at the 1st Central County Ground, Hove, when they had Sussex rocking at 117 for 8. But then Jack Carson (56) and Sean Hunt, with a career best 22, added 71 for the ninth wicket in 21 overs, the best partnership of the innings.
Sussex reached 202, with left-arm seamer Matt Taylor taking 5 for 24. Sussex maintained their momentum, dismissing both Gloucestershire's openers in the first four overs, and at the close of the first day the home side were edging the match, with Gloucestershire 136 for 6.
Sussex are also looking for an upbeat end to the season. Two weeks ago they nurtured far-fetched hopes of promotion after a dramatic victory over Leicestershire. But then they were docked 12 points because of their behaviour in that match, and that was followed by a rainy draw at Derby.
Gloucestershire had comfortably the better of the first session after choosing to bowl under heavy clouds and on a green-tinged pitch. They took four Sussex wickets and should also have had Tom Haines caught in the slips when he had made just 22 of his 62 runs.
Sussex, who welcomed back Haines and Carson - who were stood down for the last match - as well as Brad Currie, moved to 40 without loss. Then, as the clouds parted, the sun came out and batting suddenly began to look easier, they lost two wickets in three balls. Towards the end of his probing opening spell from the sea end, Taylor moved one away from Tom Clark, who edged low to first slip for 12. Then, two balls later, Tom Alsop edged a wide one from Taylor to the wicketkeeper.
Next, Gloucestershire turned to their slow bowlers who found immediate encouragement. In just his second over, the slow left-armer Zafar Gohar made one bounce and turn and James Coles, on the back foot, edged to first slip to make it 64 for 3. It was 89 for 4 in the 22nd when Ali Orr, who had struck Zafar for six over backward square-leg in the course of an unconvincing 16, was bowled by the off-spinner Ollie Price as he played forward defensively.
Gloucestershire were bossing the game at lunch, with Sussex 114 for 4 and they looked in total control after the break when they took four more wickets for three runs as Oli Carter, Fynn Hudson-Prentice (who made a duck on the day he was awarded his county cap) Haines and Henry Crocombe tumbled in three overs.
But then Carson and Hunt turned the match. Carson was dropped on 12 with the score 139 for 8 but pulled Josh Shaw for four to raise the 150. The fifty partnership came in 56 minutes and then Carson on-drove the aggressive Zaman Akhter for another boundary to reach his own half-century, his third of the season.
When Gloucestershire batted, Currie broke through in the third over as Ben Charlesworth was caught low down at first slip and then Chris Dent pulled Hunt to midwicket. James Bracey, caught at third slip off Currie, was third out at 42 and Sussex missed three more difficult chances (two from Ollie Price and one from Miles Hammond) before Hammond was well caught by Crocombe in Carson's first over. Hunt then had Price caught at third slip for 27 and finally Graeme van Buuren pulled Haines to Carson at long leg.