Tom Taylor claimed his first five wicket haul for Northamptonshire as he and Ben Sanderson picked up 9 of the 10 Surrey wickets to fall on the opening day.
Tom Smith provided crucial resistance for the visitors, 21-year-old wicketkeeper/batsman reaching 123 with a six and 14 fours – the third first-class hundred of his career – to drag the visitors from 15-3 to 252 all out.
Acting Surrey skipper Hashim Amla opted to bat on winning the 10:30am start and his side were soon in trouble.
Cameron Steel survived two appeals for lbw in Ben Sanderson’s first two overs, but wasn’t so lucky the third time and was pinned in front for nought.
Amla played no shot to Taylor and lost his off bail and when Lawrie Evans, had his off-stump pegged back by one which jagged back off the seam from the same bowler Surrey were 15-3.
Smith entered the fray to play possibly the innings of his young career. Looking composed he was tight in defence, but quick onto anything loose, his on-drives especially pleasing on the eye.
But Northamptonshire struck again on the stroke of lunch, Ryan Patel, who’d battled to 35, wafting lazily at a wide one from Taylor and edging through to Adam Rossington.
If the morning belonged to the hosts, Surrey claimed the afternoon as the early movement disappeared and the ball got soft.
Smith moved serenely to 50 with eight fours, one a dreamy cover-drive from the bowling of Northamptonshire first-class debutant James Sales.
He found an ally in Jacks, who made a fifty of his own in 85 balls with seven fours despite curbing his naturally aggressive instincts. The 100 partnership came in 192 balls as the duo batted throughout the session.
Northamptonshire kept things tight without reward until just prior to the new ball when Jacks suffered a rush of blood, charged Simon Kerrigan and was bowled.
Unperturbed, Smith moved to his hundred with a glorious cover drive, but when the ripe cherry arrived Northamptonshire struck back, blowing away the tail, the last five wickets falling for 46.
Northamptonshire safely negotiated a tricky 3 overs before the close, finishing 7 for no loss.