On a bitterly cold day in the north east Nottinghamshire closed in on their second successive LV= County Championship victory of the new 2012 season.
Notts were left needing one more wicket to complete a deserved victory.
Set a target of 368, the home side ended the day on 203-9, with all six bowlers getting amongst the wickets.
Earlier, Nottinghamshire’s second innings had finally ended on 335, with Michael Lumb eventually falling for 131.
The day’s play commemorated the twentieth anniversary of Durham’s first match as a first class county, a fixture at The Parks, against Oxford University but as events unfolded it was clear that it wouldn’t be a happy celebration of that event.
Heavy overnight rain left deep puddles all over the outfield and despite a stiff, drying breeze and stoical work from the ground-staff, play couldn’t start until midday.
Michael Lumb, unbeaten overnight on 104, and skipper Chris Read, resumed with Notts in an overall lead of 263.
The tone was set from the first delivery of the day, with Ben Stokes conceding two runs from a no-ball and followed it up with another later in the same over.
Read, busy and workmanlike, accumulated his runs at a steady pace, with Lumb punctuating a flow of singles with a glorious drive down the ground for four.
Despite the taking of the second new ball both batsmen were untroubled during the hour to lunch, which arrived with Notts on 282-4.
A further seven runs were added before Durham were given something to celebrate as Onions found a bit of late movement to castle the Nottinghamshire skipper for 29.
As so often happens, one wicket brought another almost immediately. Callum Thorp had got through 21 wicket-less overs, for just 26 runs, and his perseverance was eventually rewarded with Lumb (131) sending a leading edge to Smith at point.
Smith’s execution of the catch was of the highest level and he repeated the standard when Franks (8) clipped Claydon to his left shortly afterwards.
Having endured a pretty tough 24 hours Durham weren’t relishing an extended Andre Adams (22) innings and he only stayed in the middle for just eleven deliveries. By that time, though, he’d clubbed three fours and smashed a brutal maximum into the sightscreens at the Lumley End.
Ben Phillips (14) and Andy Carter (0) were both caught behind off Claydon, who ended with figures of 4-84 as Notts were finally dismissed for 335.
Durham began their quest to score 368 with a minimum of 51 overs, plus a full day at their disposal.
Their chances were immediately diminished when Di Venuto (6) tried an ambitious pull against Fletcher and Franks took a well-judged catch despite the swirling wind.
The introduction of Adams then tore open the rest of the top order. His third delivery trapped Smith (10) lbw and he ended his first over with figures of 2-3 after having Stoneman (2) caught by Patel at third slip.
Adams’ next wicket came from the ‘ball of the match’ moving enough to smash into Stokes (7) off stump.
The board read 30-5 when Phillips trapped Benkenstein (2) in front and then 54-6 when Franks had Blackwell (14) caught at long leg.
A stand of defiance between Mustard and Borthwick (22) ended when the latter lost his off peg to a fiery full-pitched delivery from Carter.
Thorp (12) gave Patel a wicket when he came charging down and was stumped by a yard.
Mustard reached 50 (56 balls, 5x4, 1x6) and then found a succession of boundaries whilst trying to shield Onions from the strike.
The pair were able to add 41 for the 9th wicket and take the contest into the extra half an hour before Adams struck again.
Mustard (80) found Taylor at point and the fielder took an excellent low catch to eventually remove the brave Durham captain.
As the clock ticked towards the eventual closing time of 7.30pm Onions and Claydon frustrated the Notts attack and extended the contest into a final day.