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Prior stakes his claim with ton

Watch highlights of day three

England wicketkeeper Matt Prior posted the first century of the new LV= County Championship season to help Sussex take a firm grip of their Division One encounter with Middlesex on day three at the County Ground.

Prior, who was omitted for the final two Ashes Tests over the winter, survived three dropped catches on his way to 125 as Sussex made a first-innings total of 386 in reply to Middlesex's 105 all out.

Matt Prior played in attractive fashion, with 19 fours and a six, as he scored 125 to establish Sussex's dominance of the match against Middlesex

The 32-year-old was finally dismissed by Steven Finn, who did his own hopes of England ambitions no harm at all with figures of 6-80.

The paceman displayed few ill-effects from a difficult tour Down Under, although his display was arguably the only bright spot on a frustrating day for Middlesex as the game raced away from them.

At stumps they were 57 for one - England Lions opener Sam Robson the man out after shouldering arms to Steve Magoffin - and 224 runs behind.

Sussex began proceedings on 86 for three and with Prior at the crease on 32.

He had been dropped on his way to reaching that mark on Sunday - day two was then completely washed out - and he had some further luck as he progressed from there, first with Adam Rossington failing to hold on to his drive off James Harris' bowling.

Five overs later it looked as if Prior might be caught on 55 as he hooked Toby Roland-Jones, but the shot earned a six as Harris spilled over the boundary.

It was Prior's only maximum in a knock peppered with 19 fours as he went about his business in typically pleasing fashion - flourishing drives and crunching shots square on either side of the wicket all in evidence.

Sussex lost their first wicket of the day with 148 on the board as Finn saw off Matt Machan for 38.

The rangy seamer quickly added the scalp of Ashar Zaidi but Prior was still going strong and reached his century just before lunch, which Sussex enjoyed on 209 for five having seen their talisman race to the landmark with a brace of cover driven fours and a meaty hook.

They advanced to 244 by the time Ben Brown, having contributed 44, became the next to fall to Finn, who soon afterwards sent Prior on his way as Harris held onto a mistimed pull and partially atoned for his earlier error.

Amid Finn completing his haul, the Sussex tail wagged incredibly effectively. James Anyon and Steffan Piolet scored 50 and 25 respectively, while last man Jon Lewis continued a memorable debut with a breezy 35 that left Magoffin unbeaten on 19.

After the early loss of Robson, Middlesex captain Chris Rogers scored 27 to see his team through to the close alongside Dawid Malan.

If Middlesex are to save the game from here then Australia's Ashes opener Rogers is likely to have a long day ahead of him tomorrow.

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