Mark Stoneman fell four short of his fourth century of the season as Durham enjoyed marginally the better of day one against Sussex in their latest LV= County Championship match.
Needing six points to overhaul Yorkshire at the top of Division One, Durham managed only one batting point when they were all out for 245, but in 22 overs they also earned a bowling point as Sussex slipped to 60 for three.
The third wicket went to Mitchell Claydon with his second ball following his recall from a three-month loan spell at Kent, who have signed the seamer for next season.
Durham need him at present because they have three pacemen injured plus Ben Stokes on England one-day duty, but Sussex are equally depleted and handed a debut to 18-year-old all-rounder Harry Finch.
They also brought in left-armer Lewis Hatchett for only his third appearance of the season and he knocked the middle out of Durham's innings with a spell of 3-5 in 20 balls.
Stoneman got an inside edge into his leg stump, and Paul Collingwood was pinned on the crease and fell lbw for one before Phil Mustard edged a beauty to second slip.
That was well held by Finch to partly atone for dropping Stoneman on 44 off the luckless Steve Magoffin, who bowled with great accuracy and moved the ball both ways.
Magoffin had Scott Borthwick caught behind off an edged drive, but deserved more wickets in an opening spell of 10-5-17-1.
He also regularly beat the bat in his second stint before earning late reward with the wickets of Usman Arshad, lbw for 30, and Chris Rushworth.
James Anyon also swung the ball and won two lbw verdicts en route to figures of 4-87.
The second ended a seventh-wicket stand of 54 between Michael Richardson and Arshad, who was making only his second first-class appearance.
Stoneman scored his first 41 at a run-a-ball, twice hitting three boundaries in an over, before easing back to reach his ninth fifty of the season from 69 deliveries.
In total he hit 16 fours in an impressive 129-ball innings.
Sussex reached 28 before Graham Onions struck twice in the ninth over on his return from a broken finger.
Chris Nash, who went very close to playing on first ball, edged a drive to first slip and Sussex skipper Michael Yardy shuffled across to be leg-before for a third-ball duck.
Joe Gatting lost his off stump to Claydon, but Luke Wells survived a difficult chance to Phil Mustard off Rushworth on nought to reach stumps alongside nightwatchman Anyon.