LV County Championship - Division Two
Northamptonshire 304 (D J G Sales 59) & 251-1 dec (S D Peters 130 no, R A White 61 no, N J O'Brien 58) v Essex 256-2 dec (J E R Gallian 72, R S Bopara 65 no, J K Maunders 62, M L Pettini 50 no) & 60-3
Northamptonshire (7pts) drew with Essex (9pts)
Stephen Peters blasted an unbeaten 130 before the rain washed away any prospect of a positive result on the final day of Northamptonshire's LV County Championship Division Two fixture against Essex.
Peters' innings allowed Northamptonshire to declare at 251-2 in their second innings, leaving Essex to chase 300 in the remaining 70 overs.
But although the hosts snared three wickets, they were unable to press home the advantage as the rain once again intervened with Essex at 60-3.
The draw leaves Northamptonshire's hopes of promotion hanging by a thread, but Essex retain an outside chance after picking up five bonus points and holding a game in hand.
Essex declared on their first-innings on its overnight position of 256-2, paving the way for captains Mark Pettini and Nicky Boje to agree to some declaration bowling to avoid the draw.
Pettini, who had never previously bowled in first class cricket, and wicketkeeper James Foster, who had sent down 12 deliveries, formed the new-ball attack for the visitors.
Peters and Niall O'Brien cashed in with rapid half-centuries during an opening stand of 159.
However, Ireland international O'Brien (58) embarrassingly became Foster's maiden scalp when he drove his fellow wicketkeeper straight to Pettini at mid-on.
Peters brought up his ton by hitting Foster to the boundary for four while new batsmen Rob White quickly settled into his stride hitting three consecutive sixes off Pettini.
The Essex captain was unlucky not to claim his first wicket when White edged him to Ravi Bopara, who put the chance down in the slips.
Peters had plundered 130 off 76 deliveries and White was unbeaten on 61 from 26 balls when Boje declared the hosts' second innings.
Foster finished with bowling of figures of 1-122 from 12 overs, while Pettini ended his 12 overs with 0-129.
Essex's run chase started in the worst possible fashion as Jason Gallian went third ball for a duck, trapped lbw by David Lucas (1-19).
Bopara followed after lunch, leg-before to Boje (1-16) for 24, and Essex were really wobbling when opener John Maunders (26) edged Lance Klusener (1-24) - in his penultimate Championship game at Wantage Road for Northants - to Boje in the slips.
But that proved the last action as the fielders joined Maunders in departing the field when the heavens opened.
England batsman Ravi Bopara was unbeaten on 65 as Essex closed day three on 256-2 against Division Two rivals Northamptonshire.
Rain delayed the start of play until after lunch and having already suffered a wash out on day two, the visitors were in a rush to pick up bonus points.
An opening stand of 113 got them off to an excellent start before debutant John Maunders was dismissed by Monty Panesar for 62.
Opening partner Jason Gallian (72) was also a victim of spin, home captain Nicky Boje getting the veteran batsman caught at mid-on.
However Bopara, who had put on 55 for the second wicket with Gallian, celebrated being named in England's squad for the lucrative Stanford Super Series with a controlled innings that included eight boundaries.
Essex skipper Mark Pettini, who will be hoping to push for a positive result to the contest with both teams still having hopes of promotion, hit three fours and the same number of sixes in a rapid 50 not out.
Day one & two
The respective promotion pushes of both Essex and Northamptonshire were left frustrated after day two of their County Championship Division Two match finished with honours even.
Both teams need a win at Wantage Road to keep their chances of a top-two finish alive but, with the whole of the opening day having been washed out, a draw now appears the most likely outcome.
The weather having also delayed Wednesday's start, home skipper Nicky Boje won the toss and elected to bat.
Niall O'Brien (45) then took the attack to Essex before playing around spinner James Middlebrook and losing his leg stump.
Rob White (24) also chipped in while opener Stephen Peters made 41 before being cleaned bowled by Ravi Bopara.
Graham Napier then struck for the visitors with the wickets of Riki Wessels (17) Lance Klusener (0) in two balls.
Boje survived the hat-trick ball and then made a blistering 37 off 28 balls before holing out to Essex skipper Mark Pettini off Bopara.
David Sales (59) eventually top scored, his innings including two sixes before confusion with partner Johan van der Wath allowed Chris Wright to run him out after tea.
The tail was quickly cleaned up, with Middlebrook disposing of van der Wath (17) and Monty Panesar (four) and David Lucas going for one.
However, South African Andrew Hall finished unbeaten on 34 as Northants totalled 304 all out.
In reply, Essex's new opening partnership of Jason Gallian (14) and debutant John Maunders (four) cagily saw out the remaining 14 overs.