Ben Cox and George Rhodes led a partial Worcestershire fightback after they had been reduced to 48-5 by veteran paceman David Masters on day one of the Specsavers County Championship clash with Essex at Chelmsford.

Cox and Rhodes both scored impressive half centuries to take Worcestershire to their first batting bonus point and a final total of 230 all out from 68.2 overs.

Not for the first time this season, the middle and lower order came to the rescue for the visitors as Masters finished with 7-52 from 21.2 overs.

Essex reached 111-1 off 27 overs in reply by the close.

Worcestershire skipper Daryl Mitchell elected to bat and he and Brett D'Oliveira were relatively untroubled in adding 35 from the opening 12 overs.

But then veteran David Masters picked up three wickets in the space of five deliveries in the 13th over.

D'Oliveira (20) fell to a fine diving catch by Ryan ten Doeschate at backward square leg, Tom Fell (0) was trapped lbw first ball and then Joe Clarke (0) was bowled by a fine delivery which cut back.

Mitchell then played out a maiden from Masters but to the first ball of his next over he was lbw for 15 to leave Worcestershire on 36-4 in the 17th over.

Ross Whiteley drove Graham Napier for four but after making six he played around a Masters delivery and was bowled with the total 48-5.

Cox decided to lead a counter-attack after lunch with five boundaries in the space of two boundaries off Napier after lunch.

Rhodes gave him determined support and the half century stand came up in 16 overs.

Cox continued to score freely and a straight drive to the boundary off Jamie Porter took him to his half century off 65 balls with 11 fours.

The sixth wicket pair scored freely but after making 63, Cox fell to a fine low catch at cover by Dan Lawrence off Porter.

The partnership was worth 94 in 22.2 overs.

Joe Leach came to the wicket to partner Rhodes and had a let-off on 19 when Will Rhodes spilled a chance at gulley off Napier with the the total 178-6.

Rhodes went to an excellent half century off 107 balls with his eighth boundary – off Ravi Bopara.

But on 59 Rhodes edged his namesake Will Rhodes to England Test captain Alastair Cook at slip with Worcestershire 200-7 and having just secured the first batting point.

The stand with Leach was worth 58 in 14 overs.

Leach (34) made yet another useful contribution before Masters struck for a sixth time with Lawrence holding onto the chance diving forward at deep gulley.

The innings was polished off with Jack Shantry (0) also caught by Lawrence in the gulley off Will Rhodes and then debutant Miguel Cummins (4) was bowled by Masters to leave Ed Barnard unbeaten on 18.

Leach struck an early blow when Essex launched their reply with Nick Browne (0) offering no shot and trapped lbw with just one run on the board.

Leach could have had a second wicket but Cook on 12 was dropped at third slip with the total 42-1.

The 100 stand came up in 23 overs and by the close Westley, who reached his half century off 74 balls with nine fours, was unbeaten on 58 and Cook 43 not out.