Warwickshire 265 (Ambrose 78, Bell 61, Brooks 50, Crook 4-51, Bracewell 4-71) and 180 for 4 (Rhodes 100*) beat Northamptonshire 256 and 187 (Stone 5-49) by six wickets

Warwickshire recorded their third successive Specsavers County Championship victory by beating Northamptonshire by six wickets on the third day at Edgbaston.

Facing a victory target of 179, no formality on a pitch offering some variable bounce, the home side were reduced to 44 for 3 by an excellent pre-lunch burst of 7.3-2-9-3 by Ben Sanderson.

But opener Will Rhodes stayed firm to lodge his maiden first-class century against a Northamptonshire attack already missing the injured Richard Gleeson and further deprived of Steven Crook, off the field with a hamstring injury.

Rhodes ended with an unbeaten 100 (165 balls, 13 fours, one six) to see his team over the line with four sessions to spare. Warwickshire’s win cemented their place at the top of Division Twp and leaves them well placed to challenge hard for promotion straight back up.

Northamptonshire’s promotion ambitions have been hammered by a haul of just 15 points from their first four games. They could use some better luck on the injury front, but also need their batsmen, too many of whom perished on the offensive in this match, to give their impressive bowling attack something to work with.

Trailing by nine runs on first innings, Northamptonshire resumed on the third morning on 160 for 7 and added only another 27 as Olly Stone completed a five-for against his former team-mates.

Doug Bracewell left a ball too late and feathered Stone to wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose, Chris Wright knocked out Brett Hutton’s off stump and Rob Keogh (29, 58 balls, three fours) pulled Stone to long leg and fell to a fine catch by Henry Brookes right on the boundary.

Stone finished with 5 for 49, taking his wicket haul in the last three championship innings to 15 at 12.4 runs apiece.

Northamptonshire needed to strike early and did through Sanderson whose fifth ball was chipped to square leg by Dominic Sibley. Rhodes and Ian Bell added 36 in 12 overs but then Sanderson struck two big blows. Bell was pinned lbw by an excellent delivery and Trott fell in similar fashion on the stroke of lunch to send Northants into the interval scenting their first victory of the season.

That scent faded as Rhodes and Sam Hain added 50 in 16 overs. Hain later edged Luke Proctor to Ben Hutton at slip but Matt Lamb (23 not out, 62 balls, three fours) provided Rhodes with staunch support in an unbroken stand of 86 in 22 overs.

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