Gloucestershire build on perfect platform
Dan Housego and Hamish Marshall extended their record fourth-wicket stand to 280 before Gloucestershire strengthened their position with two cheap wickets on a truncated second day against Essex at Chelmsford.
Housego and Marshall, twin centurions on day one, made it to 150 and 149 respectively as the visitors posted 409 for five declared.
On a day that saw 59 overs lost to rain, Essex then stumbled to 30 for two as James Fuller accounted for Rob Quiney and Ben Foakes.
Rain ensured play did not commence until 3:10pm, but Marshall and Housego soon scored freely after resuming with Gloucestershire on 300 for three.
They did so chiefly at the expense of fast bowler Maurice Chambers, who was despatched to the boundary five times in his first three overs.
The first three were gathered by Marshall, although the New Zealander did survive an escape when Chambers, diving forward in his followthrough, failed to hold onto a firmly-struck drive.
Chambers was removed from the attack after conceding 26 runs in four overs before 20 year-old speed merchant Tymal Mills earned Essex a much-needed breakthrough.
That arrived when Marshall, seeking to emulate the uppercut stroke which brought him a six against Graham Napier a day earlier, was caught just inside the third man boundary by Quiney.
Marshall’s innings, which contributed to a record stand for any wicket by Gloucestershire against Essex, contained 19 fours and a six.
His exit was soon followed by the departure of Housego, who fell lbw to a Ravi Bopara delivery that kept low.
Housego, who laced his innings with 18 boundaries while adopting a mainly cautious approach, faced 341 deliveries while recording his highest first-class score.
Benny Howell struck a well-constructed 37 containing four fours, before Gloucestershire declared.
They were quickly rewarded with success when Essex embarked upon their reply.
Australian Quiney, making his championship debut for the hosts, found the boundary with a leg-side glance against Fuller, but it proved his only scoring stroke because the next ball knocked back his off stump with the total on 11.
Fuller struck again with the total on 23 when Foakes guided the ball to Chris Dent at second slip.
Yet before the bowler could inflict further damage, bad light ended play for the day.