A brilliant record-breaking partnership from centurion Adam Wheater and Gareth Berg put Hampshire within touching distance of their first Championship win of the season at Sussex.
A good day with the ball on day one at Hove saw Sussex bowled out for 251 before Hampshire made a decent fist of their reply to reach 116 for four.
Resuming the innings on day two, James Vince moved on from his overnight 52 to 76 with ease and looked well on course for his – and the club’s – first century of the season.
Nightwatchman Danny Briggs (12) had been removed in the first half an hour of play, and Vince took the lead role before he was caught at slip chasing a wide delivery.
The Hampshire innings looked in trouble when Sean Ervine (15) was adjudged lbw – even though the all-rounder looked decidedly unhappy about the umpire’s decision – to leave the visitors at 197 for seven.
If Sussex felt that would pave the way for a handy first innings lead, they were very much mistaken as Hampshire showed real steel and intent to take command of the game.
Wheater looked in supreme form and rattled along to 64 not out by the lunch interval, while Berg’s unbeaten 33 saw Jimmy Adams’ side edge themselves into a 13-run lead.
After the break, the Hampshire duo cut loose, although it was against an under-strength Sussex attack which has been hampered by several injuries in recent weeks.
Even so, it was some welcome positive cricket from Hampshire after their struggles in the four-day game so far this season.
Wheater became the first Hampshire player to reach three figures this season as he cracked 17 fours, before he was eventually dismissed for 111 from just 99 balls as he top-edged a sweep to slip.
It ended a partnership worth 165 runs in just 24 overs – Hampshire’s highest eighth-wicket stand against Sussex, eclipsing Shane Warne and Nic Pothas in 2006 – but more importantly put them in control of the game
The one disappointment was that Berg was so cruelly denied his own century when he was run out for 99 as he attempted a risky second run.
Batting alongside number 11 Jackson Bird for the final wicket, Berg realised that time was not on his side.
And he made the smart move by attacking Mike Yardy with two enormous sixes straight over the bowler’s head to race through the 80s and 90s.
Needing just two more runs for his hundred, he came up agonisingly short after Matt Hobden’s direct hit left him just short of his ground.
But it was a valuable contribution from the former Middlesex man which gave Hampshire a healthy 141-run first-innings lead.
The visitors continued their dominance when Fidel Edwards ripped out the top order to reduce Sussex to 23 for three.
Ed Joyce (36) steadied the ship but a fiery late spell from Edwards saw him grab his fourth wicket late on as Chris Nash (50) was dismissed to leave Sussex on the ropes at 142 for five – a lead of just one run.