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Rob Newton and Steven Crook hit centuries to earn Northamptonshire a draw on the final day of the Specsavers County Championship match with Gloucestershire at Bristol.

Newton, unbeaten on 58 overnight, went on to make 108, off 234 balls, with 18 fours, while Crook hit 103 not out, having reached his hundred off 127 deliveries, with 17 boundaries.

The County closed on 399 for eight, leading by 157, having batted with far more application than in the first innings. Adam Rossington contributed 39, despite clearly feeling discomfort from the finger injury he suffered while wicketkeeping on Monday, and Richard Gleeson a valuable 31.

David Payne (three for 72) was the pick of the Gloucestershire bowlers, but in general they erred on the short side. The hosts took 11 points from a game they had high hopes of winning at the start of the day, while Northamptonshire claimed seven.

The visitors began the day on 120 for three, trailing by 122. After the early loss of Richard Levi for 23, caught behind dabbing at a wide ball from Payne, Rossington helped Newton add 60 for the sixth wicket.

Rossington looked in pain against the quicker bowlers, but played well before miscuing the medium-pace of Kieran Noema-Barnett to mid-on where Payne took a good diving catch.

Crook appeared to survive a chance to Roderick, standing up to Noema-Barnett, before he had scored and was unbeaten on seven at lunch, while Newton headed off on 99 with plenty of time to contemplate his century, having looked untroubled.

He brought up three figures by pulling the second ball after lunch, a juicy long-hop from left-arm spinner Graham van Buuren, for his 17th boundary.

It was a chanceless hundred, but Newton then fell to the second new ball, which was taken with Northamptonshire 241 for five, still one run behind.

Five had been added when Payne found a way between Newton’s bat and pad with a full, swinging delivery, which rattled into his stumps.

That brought in Seekkuge Prasanna, on his Championship debut. He immediately went on the counter attack, blasting 26 from 23 balls, including 4 fours and a six, before holing out to deep backward square, top-edging a short delivery from Payne.

At that stage Northamptonshire led by only 52, but Gleeson then joined Crook in a match-saving stand. Crook was unbeaten on 82 at tea, with his side 357 for seven and leading by 115.

The final session produced more frustration for Gloucestershire on a pitch offering little assistance. Crook reached a brilliant hundred with successive boundaries off Josh Shaw, having faced 127 balls and hit 17 fours.

By the time Gleeson fell lbw to van Buuren for a hugely valuable 31, the partnership with Crook was worth 101 and Northamptonshire led by 153. Soon afterwards the players shook hands.

Skipper Alex Wakely said: "It was really pleasing to see us bat with so much spirit today. Rob Newton played superbly and Steven Crook produced exactly the type of innings we needed.

"A draw feels like a small victory from the position we were in.  But we can't forget that we again batted poorly in our first innings, giving wickets away through poor shots.

"Chris Dent and Michael Klinger showed for Gloucestershire the benefits of playing late and not pushing at the ball. We need to learn from that because we are nicking too many catches behind the wicket."

****Northamptonshire's Second XI spent most of a tough day in the field as Worcestershire took charge of the Championship match at Kidderminster.

Centuries from Alex Hepburn and Ollie Westbury - plus Tom Fell's knock of 72 - saw the hosts pile up 539-7 declared in reply to the County's 325 all out.

Northamptonshire then lost Saif Zaib and Sam Arthurton at the end of the day to close on 21-2 in their second innings, still trailing by 193 with a day to go.



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