Stevens skittles Essex after Northeast ton
Kent's Sam Northeast and Durham's Dale Benkenstein registered the first centuries of the Championship season.
Northeast's 112 held together an otherwise fragile effort from Rob Key's team after winning the toss in the clash of last season's relegated sides at Chelmsford, where 17-year-old Reece Topley – son of former Essex bowler Don Topley – took a wicket with his third delivery in the first-class game as Kent were all out for 247.
But the Essex batsmen found conditions no more to their liking, sliding to 49 for six with their England duo, Alastair Cook and Ravi Bopara, both falling cheaply to all-rounder Darren Stevens, who ended with five for 14 from 12 overs.
Benkenstein's 118 was the centrepiece of an early show of strength by Durham. Supplemented by fluent half-centuries from Mark Stoneman, Gordon Muchall and Ian Blackwell, Durham claimed maximum batting points.
It was hard work for injury-hit Hampshire but there was encouragement for 19-year-old left-arm spinner Danny Briggs, whose long toil in the sun was rewarded with four wickets.
Glen Chapple took five for 68 as promoted Sussex were bowled out for 243 at Liverpool, where Joe Gatting fell 10 runs short of recording his second first-class century. Ed Joyce scored 84.
Half-centuries for Rory Hamilton-Brown and Gareth Batty helped Second Division favourites Surrey total 322 against Northamptonshire at the Oval, while left-arm spinner Claude Henderson's unbeaten 74 helped Leicestershire recover from 136 for seven to be 231 for nine against Glamorgan.
Will Gidman made 89 on his debut for the Gloucestershire side captained by brother Alex against Derbyshire.
Arsenal have 'too many strikers' claims Arsene Wenger, despite admitting Lukas Podolski is 'not a real centre-forward'
Arsenal transfer news: Arsene Wenger says he will be 'actively involved' on deadline day... but may not buy a striker despite Giroud injury
Fernando Torres to AC Milan: Jose Mourinho talks up Mattia Destro with Torres on verge of Chelsea exit
Mario Balotelli has been 'spoken to at length' and Liverpool have ensured he lives on Merseyside rather than Manchester
Burnley vs Manchester United: Why Louis van Gaal has been unflustered by United's terrible start to the season
- 3 Oil tanker with $100 million cargo goes missing off Texas coast
- 5 Medina: Saudis take a bulldozer to Islam's history
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
Ukip Douglas Carswell defection: Tory MP jumps ship to join Nigel Farage
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools