Joyce keeps Sussex afloat
Ed Joyce prevented Sussex from being skittled cheaply by Somerset on the opening day of their LV= County Championship Division One encounter.
The captain was the only Sussex batsman to offer any serious resistance to the Somerset attack and he reached the close of play on 99 not out as Sussex stumbled to 210 for nine.
Peter Trego (three for 47 from 19 overs) and Craig Overton (two for 41 from 20) were the pick of the bowlers on a rain-interrupted day.
Sussex won the toss and chose to bat but Joyce was undoubtedly cursing that decision as Alfonso Thomas pressured Luke Wells into edging to Alviro Petersen at third slip in the fifth over and Rory Hamilton-Brown was bowled by Trego two overs later to leave Sussex struggling on 10 for two.
Chris Nash was the third to go when he edged behind off Trego's bowling, James Hildreth with a regulation catch at first slip as Sussex slumped to 25 for three.
They were four down for just 63 when Matt Machan played on to his stumps to give Craig Meschede his only victim of the day.
Joyce steadied the innings and let loose with a couple of boundaries off Meschede's bowling in the 26th over. He reached his 50 with another boundary off the same bowler but Sussex were in trouble on 146 for six when Luke Wright and Ben Brown were dismissed for 24 and seven respectively.
Sussex reached tea on 163 without further loss and were spared further punishment, temporarily at least, when the rain came down once again.
Steffan Piolet edged behind to wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter off Thomas when play restarted to leave Sussex down and almost out on 166 for seven.
Will Beer joined the action and he and Joyce added 26 runs for the eighth wicket, but Beer was bowled through the gate on eight as George Dockrell became the fifth Somerset bowler to take a wicket during the day.
Number 10 batsman James Anyon held out for 20 balls and 21 minutes but he was dismissed for three when Overton, who had earlier accounted for Brown, pinned him leg before for his second wicket of the day.
Joyce was running out of partners as he edged closer to 100 but after last man Steve Magoffin replaced Anyon at the crease, Joyce was unable to get the one run he needed for his century before the close of play.
Joyce will be hoping to reach triple figures when play resumes on Monday but also that he and Magoffin can see their team to a reasonably competitive first-innings total.