COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP DIVISION ONE, Colchester:
CLOSE OF PLAY, DAY ONE: Somerset 215, Essex 126-6
Essex 3pts, Somerset 3pts
Essex leg-spinner Danish Kaneria celebrates the dismissal of Zander de Bruyn
A total of 16 wickets fell on day one at Colchester as title-chasing Somerset fought back against Essex.
David Masters took 5-43 as the visitors were bowled out for 215 after winning the toss.
James Hildreth top-scored with 84, but Zander de Bruyn (34) was the only other man to pass 30.
Ben Phillips, Alfonso Thomas and Charl Willoughy then all struck twice to help reduce Essex to 126-6 at the close, 89 behind.
Hildreth helped rescue Somerset from 32-2 and was well supported in a stand of 60 by De Bruyn, who was given out lbw on 16 but was called back after a consultation between the umpires.
He eventually edged Danish Kaneria to slip, but Hildreth continued, sharing 51 for the fifth wicket with Peter Trego (27).
When Trego fell, bowled by Tony Palladino, it signalled the beginning of the Somerset demise as they lost their last five wickets for 48 runs.
But the visitors fought back strongly as first Phillips trapped Jaik Mickleburgh lbw, then Ravi Bopara, with England selector Geoff Miller watching on, fell in similar fashion to Willoughby.
Matt Walker also went cheaply before Billy Godleman (32), who had been watching the carnage from the non-striker's end, was undone by Thomas.
Former skipper Mark Pettini (34) was caught behind off the Somerset vice-captain.
Ryan ten Doeschate (36 not out) and Essex captain James Foster (16) then added 47, only for Willoughby to have Foster caught at gully before the close.