Middlesex put Sussex on the ropes

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Middlesex are in a strong position to claim their third LV= County Championship win of the season after dominating the third day of their Division One match against Sussex at Lord's.

Ollie Rayner and Toby Roland-Jones both made half-centuries as Middlesex scored 491 - their highest total of the campaign - before Steven Finn struck when Sussex went in again 208 runs behind.

Finn is hoping to benefit if the England selectors decide to rotate their seam attack for the third Investec Test against West Indies next week.

He took his fourth wicket of the match when Ed Joyce slashed without moving his feet at a ball angled across him and Gareth Berg took a stinging catch in the gully.

Bad light frustrated Middlesex's hopes of making further inroads with 12 overs lost and Sussex will resume on the final day on 34 for one, still 174 runs behind.

Earlier, Middlesex had established a commanding first-innings lead although it was hard going for much of the day on a slow pitch offering little assistance to the bowlers.

Steven Finn

Steven Finn removed Ed Joyce as Middlesex left Sussex facing an uphill task to take anything from the last day of their County Championship game

Resuming on 229 for three, skipper Chris Rogers fell agonisingly short of his first hundred of the season when he shuffled in front of a full-length ball from Luke Wright and was lbw for 98, having added 97 for the fourth wicket with Eoin Morgan.

Sussex broke through again before lunch when Steve Magoffin, armed with the second new ball, removed Morgan for 71 as he pushed half-forward to an outswinger which brushed the outside edge.

Middlesex have a strong middle order, though, and John Simpson, Gareth Berg and Ollie Rayner all made positive contributions after lunch.

Simpson, in search of runs after a lean time with the bat, made 34 before he was cleaned up by Naveed Arif's inswinger but Rayner and Berg hit Monty Panesar out of the attack by taking 15 off one over from the England spinner.

The pair added 52 for the seventh wicket and Berg was in sight of a half-century when he came down the pitch to Chris Nash's off-spin and was stumped by Ben Brown after the ball turned out of the footholds.

Nash went on to pick up two more wickets but only after Rayner and Roland-Jones had injected some urgency into Middlesex's batting after tea.

Rayner, facing the county he had six years with before joining Middlesex during the winter, hit nine fours and a six off Michael Yardy while number 10 Roland-Jones raced to 52 from 63 balls to lodge his maiden championship half-century.

Middlesex plundered 71 from eight overs after tea and although both were dismissed by Nash, who finished with 3-43, they had taken their side's lead beyond 200 as Middlesex posted a total of more than 400 for the first time this season.

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