Northeast impresses for Hampshire but Overton's five-for hands Somerset the edge
Jamie Overton claimed five wickets to help Somerset gain a narrow advantage over Hampshire on day two of their Specsavers County Championship match at Taunton.
Plagued by back problems in recent seasons, the pace bowler announced himself back to his best with five for 66 from 21 overs as the visitors closed on 329 for eight - 79 runs behind their hosts (408)
Hampshire skipper Sam Northeast made 101 and Ajinkya Rahane 55.
Overton’s figures included a spell of three for 10 from six hostile overs at the River End with the second new ball, sending back Keith Barker (38), James Fuller (37) and Kyle Abbott (5) to tilt the contest Somerset’s way.
Earlier, Northeast had hit a chanceless century off 167 balls, with 13 fours and a six, sharing stands of 101 with Rahane and 82 with Rilee Rossouw, who contributed 44.
Hampshire began the day on 15 for one and soon lost Joe Weatherley, caught behind down the leg side off Overton for 14.
But, with the pitch offering little in terms of seam movement or spin, it was soon clear that Somerset would need to work hard for their wickets.
By lunch, Northeast and Rahane had comfortably taken the total to 105 for two.
The afternoon session saw both reach half-centuries - Northeast off 91 balls and Rahane off 103 deliveries.
But Jack Leach broke the partnership with his left-arm spin, with Rahane edging a drive to Lewis Gregory at slip.
Yet it did little to check Hampshire’s momentum as the aggressive Rossouw joined an increasingly confident Northeast.
The Hampshire captain pulled Overton over fine leg for six before moving to three figures - and Rossouw also cleared the rope, lofting Dom Bess back over his head.
Somerset’s young off-spinner was making his first Championship appearance of the season for the club, having been on loan at Yorkshire.
He was understandably delighted when claiming the wicket of Northeast, who drove a catch to short mid-wicket soon after completing his hundred.
It was 220 for four and in his next over, with five runs added, Bess struck again, pinning Rossouw lbw on the back foot.
Barker and Fuller then batted with assurance to take the total to 288 for five when the second new ball was taken for the 81st over.
From 306 for five, Hampshire then plunged to 314 for eight as wicketkeeper Steve Davies took three catches in quick succession off Overton, one of them down the leg side to dismiss Fuller.
All Overton's victims were caught by Davies, who now boasts the most dismissals by a keeper in the first division (34)
With his team trailing by 94 runs, Tom Alsop, who injured a hamstring wicketkeeping on the first morning, limped out with Ollie Soames acting as his runner.
In glorious sunshine, Alsop and Mason Crane batted out the day against Leach and Bess, who ended with two for 57 from 17 overs, to leave the match intriguingly poised after two days of absorbing cricket.
Both days to date have drawn good crowds, with 3,000 on the first and more than 2,000 on the second.
Somerset supporters will be the happier, though, with Hampshire due to bat last on a pitch expected to turn more as the match progresses.