JAMIE Porter celebrated his best career bowling figures as Essex sent bottom-of-the-table Worcestershire crashing back down to earth after their Vitality Blast triumph.
Porter claimed 7-41 as the County were bowled out for just 94 in the morning session.
Murali Vijay pushed home Essex’s advantage with a half-century and Tom Westley also reached the milestone as the hosts closed the day on 252-5 for a lead of 158.
Worcestershire went into the game riding the wave of their first piece of major silverware since 2007 as they beat Sussex Sharks to the T20 trophy on Saturday.
The County’s good luck continued as stand-in captain Daryl Mitchell took the risk of the toss and won, electing to bat on a good-paced wicket under grey skies.
That was as good as it got for Worcestershire in the morning as Porter ran riot.
The right-arm fast bowler needed just four deliveries to bowl Tom Fell for a duck with a ball which angled in and beat the opener through bat and pad.
Porter’s next over brought three wickets in four balls as the County collapsed to 12-4.
The second ball of the over dangled outside Mitchell’s off-stump with the opener dabbing a thin edge behind to Adam Wheater on six.
Joe Clarke flicked the next ball through mid-wicket and ran hard for three runs but Westley hurled to the non-striker’s end where both batsmen had converged.
Porter threw waywardly to Wheater who broke the stumps with Ollie Westbury (4) the last man to leave his ground and forced to depart.
Two balls later, Alex Milton (0) saw his off-stump cartwheel backwards due to Porter.
Porter trapped Ben Cox lbw for 12 and Ed Barnard was bowled with the next delivery for a golden duck.
Sam Cook replaced the bowler at the Hayes Close End and quickly had Wayne Parnell lbw for 20.
Porter returned to bowl Clarke, who had scored a battling 28, and Josh Tongue was caught by Dan Lawrence at third slip for another duck.
Simon Harmer ended the Worcestershire innings when Dillon Pennington edged to Vijay at first slip for the relegation-threatened side’s lowest total of the season and their fifth duck of the innings.
Parnell bowled Essex’s Nick Browne (5) early on but Vijay and Westley hauled them into the lead with a 129-run stand for the second wicket.
The Indian reached his 50 in 78 balls but eventually departed for 85 dragging Tongue on with Lawrence (1) quickly following when lbw to Barnard.
A cover drive showcased Westley’s best skills in a 117-ball half-century before he was caught behind for 55 by Cox off Barnard.
Ryan ten Doeschate departed for a casual 18 after slashing an edge to Clarke at first slip.
Ravi Bopara and Wheater accrued runs in the evening although the latter was dropped on 24 by Clarke at first slip with both ending the day on 36 not out.