Derbyshire on top despite battling Newton
Northamptonshire 220 for 6 v Derbyshire 364
Rob Newton could have been forgiven for feeling some frustration of late. After capping an impressive first season with a maiden Championship century against Leicestershire in the final game of last year, he might well have expected a prolonged run in the side at the start of this campaign.
Instead he has had to wait until now for his opportunity. The 21-year-old has been forced to bide his time as Northants have put their trust in the experienced middle-order trio of Mal Loye, David Sales and Rob White. Indeed, had Sales or Alex Wakely been fit for this match, Newton may well have missed out once again.
As it is, however, Newton has seized his chance with both hands. Demonstrating a naturally positive approach, he dominated the Derbyshire attack with some style and fell just six short of what would have been a second century in successive Championship games.
It was an impressive innings. Newton thumped 18 fours - that's 72 of his 94 runs - as he took full toll of some loose Derbyshire bowling. His cutting was especially impressive, but he also drove and pulled with proficiency. He'll prove hard to leave out now.
Stephen Peters was the only other Northants batsman to look comfortable for any period of time. Though he adopted a more watchful approach than Newton, Peters leaned into some typically elegant drives and helped his partner add 139 in 34.3 overs for the third-wicket.
For much of the afternoon session, Derbyshire's bowlers lacked the discipline to apply the requisite pressure. Though the immaculate Tony Palladino produced a fine ball for White, well caught by Luke Sutton as he edged one he had to play, and Ben Howgego steered obligingly to the keeper - a shot that left the batsman with his head in his hands - there was too much loose bowling to trouble Newton or Peters.
Jon Clare stuggled with his length, Ross Whiteley was wild and Mark Turner, in his early spell, was all over the place allowing Newton, in particular, to put the poor balls away with ease. On a pitch that provides just a hint of uneven bounce, Derbyshire may yet come to rue their profligacy.
They still hold the upper hand, however. Peters fell, very well caught at short-leg, as he tried to turn an off-break behind square, before Newton's fine innings ended when he edged a full ball that may have left him slightly.
More importantly, Derbyshire produced a much improved performance after tea. Turner emerged almost unrecognisable, bowling not just with pace but with excellent control and consistency, too. Those are words that may surprise followers of Durham or Somerset, Turner's previous two clubs, but he showed in his post-tea spell why he has always been seen as a bowler of some potential.
Loye, who looked horribly out of touch as he laboured over 50 balls for his six runs, was put out of his misery as Turner induced a tentative edge to the slips, before Andrew Hall missed a straight one and was leg before.
Earlier Palladino and Groenewald extended their overnight partnership to 78; a Derbyshire record in first-class matches against Northants. Palladino, launching into a series of crunching straight drives, recorded the third half-century of his first-class career and his first for his new club but, more importantly, the pair helped their side to a fourth batting bonus point and a strong platform in a game that could go a long way towards earning them promotion. Derbyshire's final total - 364 - represented a fine recovery from the depths of 39 for 5 the previous morning.