After being bowled out for 103, Rushworth was outstanding dragging the home side back into the contest by claiming figures of 8-51. Sussex failed to capitalise on their solid bowling performance, after Ollie Robinson notched his third five-wicket haul on the bounce, boasting only a lead of 19 over the north east outfit.
Steel and Alex Lees formed a solid partnership at the top of the innings in response. The 22-year-old held his composure to reach three figures for the first time this term, becoming his county's fifth centurion of the season. At the close of play the hosts held a 201-run advantage over Sussex with six wickets remaining in theirs second innings.
Durham began the day 92-7 in need of an effort from the tail to guide them to a competitive first-innings' score. However, Robinson was able to strike three times, removing Stuart Poynter, Matt Salisbury and Nathan Rimmington, claiming a five-wicket haul and dismissing the hosts for 103. Sussex were immediately pegged back in their response as Tom Haines edged a Rushworth delivery to third slip in the first over. Phil Salt and Luke Wells attempted to see off the new ball and made steady progress before both players were dismissed in back-to-back deliveries as Rushworth and Salisbury struck.
Rushworth then took command of proceedings from the Lumley End. His subtle variations in pace and movement have brought the 32-year-old a great deal of success during his career and he notched his 400th first-class wicket for Durham by bowling Harry Finch for 12 with a fine delivery. The dismissal opened the floodgates to bring the home side back into the contest. Ben Brown and Michael Burgess fell to the seamer, claiming the 21st five-wicket haul in the four-day format.
A brilliant catch by Will Smith at gully sent Chris Jordan on his way, while Jofra Archer lasted only a solitary delivery when he was cleaned up by Rushworth. Robinson handed the veteran his eighth wicket of the innings, although Poynter and Paul Collingwood had to combine to take the catch behind the stumps. Another scalp would have seen Rushworth claim his career-best figures, but Salisbury ended the innings by trapping David Wiese in front of the stumps, bowling out the visitors for 122 and a lead of 19.
Day one reportMills can't wait for Finals DayGillespie has faithDurham capitalised on their momentum to eradicate the deficit without loss as Cameron Steel and Alex Lees built a solid partnership. The duo put on 72 for the first wicket before Lees was given out caught behind on 43 off the bowling of Robinson. Archer then accounted for the scalp of Smith to apply pressure. Steel held firm at the other end, reaching his fifty off 78 deliveries with a boundary down to fine leg. Graham Clark struck three boundaries early in his knock, but was pinned lbw by Archer for 21.
Steel continued his impressive knock, making his runs at a good pace to break into the nineties. He was given a life on 95 when he top edged a delivery from Jordan, but Salt running back slipped as he attempted to make the catch. The 22-year-old made his first century of the campaign, reaching the milestone with a boundary through the covers off his 158th delivery. The partnership between Steel and Richardson was ended on 55 as the former was removed by Robinson. However, Steel remained unbeaten at the close alongside Axar Patel his side well poised on 220-4, 201 runs ahead of the visitors.
Sussex seamer Robinson said: "We got the wickets quickly this morning then coming out to bat we knew that it was going to nip around. I'm not sure the wicket was 122 all out wicket, but obviously it was tough. Rushworth has bowled really well. Coming into bat in the second innings we have to know that he is the main danger, they've only got three seamers.
"It's definitely flattening out, so we're not out of the game by any means. It's September all of their bowlers are going to be tired in the second innings. Rushworth keeps coming. Year after year he takes wickets 50 or so every year, so you strive to be like that.
"I've had a good season personally. Obviously it's not finished yet and hopefully we can end it on a high note. Hopefully I can get a few more wickets and Sussex can end the season with promotion."