Stuart Meaker took a career-best 8 for 52 to give Surrey what appeared to be an excellent chance to record their second win of the season against Somerset at The Oval only for Rory Hamilton-Brown, who is normally the most positive of captains, to suffer a rare attackof conservatism.
Somerset's dismissal for 180 left Surrey with a target that appeared to be well within their compass with 85 overs at their disposal to chase 305 to win.
They lost Steve Davies in the third over when the opener was bowled by the South African pace bowler Vernon Philander but the chase seemed to be on as Jacques Rudolph and Jason Roy added 89 in 23 overs for the second wicket.
Somerset hit back through their young left-arm spinner George Dockrell, who took three wickets in the space of 10 balls. Roy looped a catch to short leg, Rudolph drove to deep mid-wicket and Zander de Bruyn top-edged a sweep.
The loss of Tom Maynard, lbw to Peter Trego, was a blow for Surrey but at tea with 36 overs left they needed only 121 and Hamilton-Brown himself was scoring freely. Yet, perhaps in response to Somerset then adopting some negative tactics, with Dockrell bowling outside leg stump, Surrey suddenly put on the brakes, adding only 35 off the next 25 overs.
It rather wasted some superb bowling from the 23-year-old Meaker, the England Lions pace bowler who played in a couple of one-day internationals for England over the winter and is improving rapidly. His exceptional pace was alreadyknown, but in this match he added controlled swing.
His figures improved on his previous best of 6 for 39, which he achieved against Worcestershire at New Road last month, and gave him 10 or more in a match for thefirst time.
Poor weather costing the morning's play made it difficult for Sussex and Worcestershire to contrive a result at New Road, but Sussex offered the home side a chance by declaring on 258 for 4, after Ed Joyce had made an unbeaten 108 and Chris Nash 98, which gave Worcestershire a minimum 60 overs to chase 315.
Yet it clearly did not appeal to Daryl Mitchell, the Worcestershire captain, who was perhaps mindful of the deal that he struck with his Middlesex counterpart, Chris Rogers, at Lord's last month, which backfired badly. On that occasion they were chasing 283 from 96 overs and were bowled out for 150.
The match ended in a draw, as did all the matches completed in Division Two, which allowed Derbyshire,who wrapped up a victory over Glamorgan on Friday, to establish a 14-point lead.