New Road (day 2 of 4): Essex 116 (S P Jones 4-14). Worcs 176 (B F Smith 60) and 228-5 (B F Smith 71, D K H Mitchell 70).
A quick kill by Simon Jones gave Worcestershire the momentum to take charge of their LV County Championship match with Division Two rivals Essex at New Road.
The former England fast bowler delivered only two balls on the second morning and took a wicket with each one as Essex folded for 116 to give the home side a first-innings advantage of 60.
Opener Daryl Mitchell and Ben Smith then completed half-centuries as Worcestershire established a lead of 288 when closing on 228 for five.
Jones made the most of seamer-friendly conditions for a return of four for 14 in three spells amounting to only 26 balls. Having bowled four overs in Essex's slump to 80 for seven, he was not needed when Steve Magoffin (three for 46) removed James Foster with a catch behind the wicket.
Jones then came into the attack to polish off the tail. David Masters edged to Graeme Hick at second slip and last man Danish Kaneria was probably relieved to fend an unpleasant "throat" ball to Gareth Batty in the gully.
Worcestershire are delighted with the way Jones is building up his fitness after his injuries since England's Ashes triumph in 2005, but they are still proceeding cautiously with their winter signing from Glamorgan.
While he has taken 10 for 108 in three Championship matches, he has been restricted to 31.4 overs and has had only one full day's work in first-class cricket.
Steve Rhodes, the New Road director of cricket, believes he is beginning to bowl like an England fast bowler but stressed: "He needs some more cricket under his belt. He needs more overs."
After 17 wickets on the opening day, Jack Birkenshaw, the ECB pitch liaison officer, attached no blame to the groundstaff, accepting that underlying dampness was the unavoidable result of recent downpours.
There was a better balance when Worcestershire batted again, although Mitchell gave two chances before reaching 20. Masters fumbled a caught-and-bowled opportunity and wicketkeeper Foster failed to take a low edge to his right.
Leg-spinner Kaneria broke the first half-century stand of the match when Stephen Moore (28) was given out lbw for the second day in a row. Medium-pacer Ravi Bopara found some sharp movement to have Vikram Solanki (15) caught behind and in the same over the England all-rounder should have removed Smith but Varun Chopra dropped a chance at second slip.
Mitchell's careful progress - hitting only six fours from 171 balls - continued until he was bowled by Kaneria for 70 and Essex were made to pay for Smith's let-off when he added 71 from 156 balls to his top score of 60 on the first day.
A relatively subdued Hick departed for 16 with a mistimed pull to mid-on off Bopara but Smith claimed 10 boundaries before he was lbw to Alex Tudor.