HAMPSHIRE continued to dominate their County Championship match against Durham at Chester-le-Street, only for rain to wipe out most of the final session on the second day.
Division one’s bottom club, seeking their first win, declared on 472 for nine before Ryan McLaren bowled England hopefuls Mark Stoneman and Scott Borthwick to leave Durham on 79 for two.
Stoneman offered no stroke and lost his off bail then Borthwick fell for five when he tried too late to withdraw his bat and edged into his stumps.
A change in conditions didn’t help Durham as the openers had 35 on the board after five overs.
Light rain was starting to fall when Stoneman departed for 17 in the sixth over.
It passed quickly enough for play to continue.
But the thickening cloud made batting more tricky, prompting Keaton Jennings to drop anchor.
He had raced to 20 off 16 balls, then added only three in facing a further 40 before bad light prompted tea to be taken an over early.
Gareth Berg had conceded one run in six overs.
But on the resumption following heavy rain in the interval, Jennings and Jack Burnham added 22 in six overs before the rain returned.
The three wickets Durham took as Hampshire progressed from their overnight 319 for six were handed to them.
Lewis McManus departed for five when he skied a pull off Graham Onions to be caught at mid-wicket by academy boy Alasdair Appleby, on as a substitute for Chris Rushworth.
Sean Ervine and Berg then put on 95 in 22 overs.
It was an impressive contribution from Berg.
He became the dominant partner as he made 56 off 74 balls.
But he was unable to press on further, though.
He was out after lofting Jennings to long-on.
Berg had gone to his 50 by following a six over extra cover off Ryan Pringle with a back-foot four to the same area off the next ball.
With the declaration looming after lunch, Gareth Andrew drove a straight six off Borthwick and Ervine tried to hurry to his century.
On 72 he pulled Paul Coughlin for six and had sped to 93 when he attempted a scoop off the same bowler and was bowled.
At the start of Durham’s reply McLaren’s first two overs went for 16 and Tino Best conceded 19 in three before making way for Berg.
Hampshire will hope they get more luck in the remaining days with the rain holding off.
They have a chance to press on and secure a vital victory.
Durham will have to dig in or they may need some help from the weather to save them.