Luke Wright struck his second hundred of the season against Middlesex to keep the LV= County Championship Division One leaders in with a chance of avoiding their first four-day defeat of the season.
The England all-rounder made 187 as Sussex escaped with a draw at Lord's last month and was in magnificent form again today, unbeaten on 151 at stumps on day three with Sussex 288 for six, a lead of 21.
It was an unlikely scenario after Steven Finn, left out of England’s side for the second Investec Ashes Test, took two wickets in his first seven deliveries in front of selector Ashley Giles.
Finn did not come on to bowl until the 17th over but, with his fourth ball, had Luke Wells caught at second slip.
Then, with the first delivery of his next over, he had Rory Hamilton-Brown held at first slip and went on to bowl a spell highlighted by express pace.
It was a good day for Giles. As well as Finn and Wright's impressive performances, he saw Monty Panesar complete a five-wicket haul in the morning.
Middlesex resumed on 445 for five, a lead of 216, with John Simpson and Gareth Berg the unbeaten batsmen.
Berg had added 13 when he was caught at long-off by Steve Magoffin off Panesar. Chris Jordan then had Simpson held behind before Panesar claimed the last three wickets.
Ollie Rayner, the former Sussex player, was lbw, Tim Murtagh stumped and Corey Collymore caught behind.
That gave Panesar figures of 5-95 and 4-16 during his final spell. However, Middlesex still had a lead of 267 after being dismissed for 496 and, when Sussex subsided to 45 for four, a three-day finish looked likely.
Chris Nash was out without scoring when he appeared to glove Murtagh to slip, though the batsman did not look happy with the decision.
Sussex then lost three wickets for three runs in the space of 10 balls. Between the double strike by Finn, Collymore had Michael Yardy caught behind for 18.
Skipper Ed Joyce and Wright counter-attacked, adding 110 in 25 overs, the first stroke-making and the other hitting violently.
Joyce had struck six fours in his 84-ball 47 when he was caught behind off Neil Dexter, although Ben Brown entered the fray to support Wright in another century partnership, this time worth 107.
Brown fell just before the close but Wright was still there, having faced 170 deliveries and hit 24 fours and a six.