Essex secured the early advantage against Yorkshire at Chelmsford on a pitch favouring the bowlers.
Bowled out for 208 midway through the first day of this Specsavers County Championship clash, the White Rose saw their hosts respond steadily with 122-3 from 44 overs.
South African off-spinner Simon Harmer returned 5-76 from 18.3 overs – his sixth haul of five wickets or more this season.
His first wicket, Tom Kohler-Cadmore lbw, was his 50th in the Championship in 2019 after Steve Patterson had won the county’s eleventh successive toss.
Yorkshire looked to be in decent order just before lunch on 128-4 with Harry Brook 46 having returned to the team in place of Jack Leaning.
But he was bowled by Harmer with what proved to be the last ball of the morning, opening the door for Essex.
Despite his wickets, Harmer was not at his best and Yorkshire did not let him settle. He conceded three leg-side sixes against Keshav Maharaj, Matthew Fisher and Ben Coad.
And, having been bowled out in the 50th over, the visitors did not look to be too badly placed having clinched a batting bonus point for passing 200. They scored 126 of their runs in fours and sixes.
Last May, the first day of the corresponding fixture saw 22 wickets fall and Yorkshire bowled out for 50, only to recover and win. Whilst this day wasn’t that action-packed, it was still enthralling.
Brook’s 46 was the top-score of an innings which saw Will Fraine make 29, Jonny Tattersall 23, Fisher 25 and Maharaj 26. It was just a shame that nobody was able to go on beyond 50 on a pitch offering turn and uneven bounce.
The dismissal of Patterson was the prime example of the latter.
He was bowled by a delivery which shot through low and clipped his off-stump, leaving Yorkshire at 184-8 in the 45th over. The next ball, however, to Ben Coad, reared off a good length, beat the outside edge and was taken by wicketkeeper Adam Wheater shoulder high.
Earlier, Adam Lyth skewed a drive to point as England Lions new ball quick Jamie Porter made the breakthrough (18-1 in the fifth over).
Gary Ballance then lost his leg stump having been bowled around his legs by Siddle.
Harmer removed Kohler-Cadmore, Brook, Tattersall, Maharaj and Fisher – three lbw.
He was on a hat-trick either side of lunch having bowled Brook with the last ball of the morning and got Tattersall caught behind cutting with his first ball of the afternoon, leaving Yorkshire at 129-6 in the 32nd over.
The White Rose actually made an encouraging start to their defence of 208 when Fisher had Nick Browne brilliantly caught and bowled one-handed diving to his left in his follow through as Essex fell to 11-1 in the sixth.
Fisher is playing his first Championship match since last August having come in for David Willey, who is missing this match for personal reasons.
Essex then steadied as Tom Westley hit four fours in an over off Ben Coad just before tea (42-1).
Early in the evening, Patterson had Sir Alastair Cook caught behind for 27 with one that nipped away as Essex fell to 57-2 in the 19th over, leaving the captain on 398 first-class career wickets.
Duanne Olivier, bowling third change, also struck after tea to get Dan Lawrence caught at mid-wicket (101-3 in the 33rd), but unbeaten Westley reached the day’s only fifty off 101 balls just before close.