NEIL Wagner's six-wicket haul on day two has given Essex a genuine chance of winning their low-scoring Specsavers' County Championship game against Somerset at the Cooper Associates County Ground in Taunton.

The 31-year-old South African-born, New Zealand Test bowler returned figures of six for 48 in Somerset's second innings to leave last year's Division Two champions needing 255 to register their first victory of the season.

However, it was certainly not all plain sailing.

Resuming on their overnight total of 60 for two, Essex, who bowled out Somerset for a miserly 209 on day one, collapsed to 121 for eight at lunch, with only Alastair Cook (52) providing any real resistance.

Craig Overton got the board moving in Somerset's favour when he trapped Daniel Lawrence lbw for 0 and though Cook reached 50 off 85 balls, he and Ravi Bopara departed within the space of half-a-dozen deliveries to leave Essex on 81 for five.

Although the wicket did provide a degree of assistance to the bowlers, it was not solely responsible for what was to unfold during the day.

Ryan ten Doeschate (4) chipped Lewis Gregory to James Hildreth at mid-wicket and Roelof van der Merwe found a way through Adam Wheater's defence at 91 for seven.

Then, with lunch approaching, van der Merwe struck once again to send back Simon Harmer (9) at 119 for eight.

Having wrapped up the Essex first innings shortly after lunch, thanks to wickets from Jamie Overton and Jack Leach, Somerset, boasting an 80-run first innings lead, were equally careless when they took to the crease for a second time.

Marcus Trescothick was trapped leg before by Jamie Porter for five, at 11 for one, and captain Tom Abell edged the same bowler to Wheater with only one to his name.

A 44-run partnership between Dean Elgar and Hildreth bolstered Somerset's lead in mid-afternoon and threatened to take the game way from Essex.

However, Wagner had different ideas and bowled with typical gusto to help prise out the host county's middle and late-order.

Elgar was trapped lbw by Simon Harmer for 27 and Hildreth, dropped on 26 and 30, was eventually caught in the gully by Harmer off the bowling of Bopara.

Davies was fifth man out, at 100 for five, when he offered a catch to Jamie Porter off Wagner.

After tea, Peter Trego, van der Merwe, Gregory and Jamie Overton all departed as Wagner turned the screw.

The left-armer took five wickets for 17 runs in 34 balls before Somerset's final pair of Leach and Craig Overton joined forces to build what could possibly be a match-defining partnership.

In the end, it was Wagner who took the final wicket, of Overton, but not before the pair had put on a valuable 50 runs to leave Somerset 254 runs ahead.

Faced with scoring the game's highest score to win, Essex were ten for no loss at the close.