LV County Championship - Division Two
Essex 221 (J C Mickleburgh 62, A J Hall 5-29) & 308 (J S Foster 84, S P Crook 5-71) v Northamptonshire 354 (M H Wessels 84, R A White 70, A J Hall 58, G R Napier 4-107) & 176-2 (R A White 76 no)
Northamptonshire (21pts) beat Essex (4pts) by 8 wkts
Rob White's unbeaten half-century took Northamptonshire to their first LV County Championship Division Two win of the season on Saturday.
Captain Nicky Boje's team have found the four-day game tough so far this season, but chased down the target of 176 with ease on the final day of their match with Essex at Wantage Road.
White, who scored 70 in the first innings, and fellow opener Niall O'Brien put on 81 for the first wicket before the Irish wicketkeeper fell for 29, caught by Jaik Mickleburgh off the bowling of James Middlebrook .
Australian Riki Wessels then did his best to settle matters before lunch with 24 runs from 24 balls before falling to a Ryan ten Doeschate catch from a turning Danish Kaneria delivery.
But that brought Boje to the crease and he made a quick-fire 34 off 33 balls, including six fours, to help Northants across the finishing line.
It was White who top scored, though, with 76 not out and he fittingly smashed a huge six off Matt Walker to seal the win.
James Foster's 84 allowed Essex to set Northamptonshire a victory target of 176 at Wantage Road.
Resuming at 41-2 on the third morning, the visitors batted until late in the evening session to extend their second innings to 308 all out.
Foster's gritty 169-ball innings provided the mainstay and he was well supported by the lower order who all chipped in with useful knocks.
But the home side stuck manfully to their task in the field as seamer Stephen Crook claimed 5-71, including the prized scalp of Foster.
Northants openers Rob White (9no) and Niall O'Brien (7no) negotiated the final four overs of the day without alarm to reach the close at 16-0 and will return on the final morning with a further 160 runs required.
Essex ended day two at Wantage Road on 41-2 in their second innings, still 92 runs behind Northamptonshire's total of 354.
Despite Graham Napier picking up 4-107, the hosts were able to put themselves in a commanding position thanks to major contributions from three batsmen.
Riki Wessels, coming in at number three, smashed his best score of the season so far, his knock of 84 coming off 122 balls and including 14 fours.
Rob White (70) helped put on 59 for the second wicket before he became the first of two wickets to fall in one over from Chris Wright (3-77), the other being Steelbacks skipper Nicky Boje for a first-ball duck.
The double setback did not prove costly, though, Andrew Hall following up his 5-29 with the ball on day one with a defiant 58.
Mark Nelson (27) and David Willey (30) also chipped in before Northants slipped from 311-5 to 354 all out. Their batting efforts at least meant they had already gained seven bonus points.
Their hopes of pushing on and completing their first win of the LV County Championship season were further helped when the visitors lost openers Varun Chopra and Jaik Mickleburgh before the close.
Andrew Hall took five wickets as Northamptonshire moved into a strong position on day one of their match at home to Essex.
Openers Varun Chopra and Jaik Mickleburgh had got the visitors off to a good start at Northampton, putting on 94 for the first wicket.
But South Africa all-rounder Hall first accounted for Chopra after lunch caught by Steven Crook at slip for 42 and Mickleburgh made 62 before going the same way, this time caught by Nicky Boje at square.
Former Kent batsman Matthew Walker and skipper Mark Pettini both followed to David Wigley balls caught by Robert White at slip as the Eagles were reduced to 153-4.
Wicketkeeper James Foster added 38, but the lower order tailed off with only James Middlebrook and Ryan Ten Doeschate making it into double figures.
Hall accounted for the last two - Christopher Wright and Danish Kaneria - to wrap up figures of 29-5 as Essex were bowled out for 221.
White and Niall O'Brien then made it up to 63 in the Northamptonshire reply before Graham Napier found the wicketkeeper's leading edge with the last ball of the day and Wright took a simple catch at mid-off.