Denly first ton for three years as Kent coast home
Kent 235 (Coles 66, Norwell 4-44) and 243 for 2 (Denly 117*, Northeast 88*) beat Gloucestershire 193 (Handscomb 69, Coles 3-49) and 282 (Marshall 83, Thomas 4-53) by eight wickets
Joe Denly's first century for three years helped Kent coast home against Gloucestershire at Bristol. In conjunction with Sam Northeast the pair saw their side to a target of 241 with eight wickets in hand.
Denly was 117 not out and skipper Northeast unbeaten on 88 as the visitors reached their target with 29 overs to spare to claim 20 points to three for Gloucestershire, who slumped to a second home defeat following excellent away wins over Essex and Lancashire.
Kent were 35 for 2 at one point but Denly rode his luck early on to blossom with 12 fours and 3 sixes in reaching his ton off 179 balls. It was the first time he had reached three figures in first class cricket since May 2012. Northeast provided solid support and once the shine went off the ball the result was never in serious doubt.
The tone for the day was set by the very first ball, which saw Gloucestershire lose their last second innings wicket on 282. Matt Taylor clipped a catch to midwicket off Ivan Thomas, who finished with 4 for 53 and the home side's hopes of adding 10 or 20 more valuable runs were dashed.
Even so a close contest looked in the offing when Kent opener Daniel Bell-Drummond fell with the total on only three, snapped up at second slip by Chris Dent off Craig Miles.
Gloucestershire's bowlers maintained a testing line and length with the new ball, causing Denly to play and miss several times. The second breakthrough came when Brendan Nash, who had played positively for his 25, was well caught by diving wicketkeeper Gareth Roderick in Liam Norwell's first over of the innings.
That gave Norwell five wickets in the match and took his first class tally for the season to 33. But it was as good as it got for Gloucestershire as their opponents progressed to 85 for 2 at lunch. With the sun shining in clear skies, the pair blossomed in the afternoon session, playing with increasing confidence as the boundaries started to flow.
Denly began to go for his shots and there were few alarms as Northeast also started to flow against the softer ball.
The job had virtually been done when Denly reached three figures with a pull shot off Matt Taylor that brought his 12th four. There were also three sixes in his hundred. It was his 15th four that sealed Kent's win, with Northeast still there, having faced 146 balls and hit 14 boundaries.
"Everything suddenly seems to be going in the right direction," victorious Kent skipper Sam Northeast said. "We thought that was the case going into the game and we have now recorded a very good victory on top of a promising start in the T20. I'm thrilled for Joe Denly because he had really been striving for that hundred. But it was a great team effort and the bowlers, led by Matt Coles, did a brilliant job, particularly on day three when the pitch had flattened out."
Gloucestershire director of cricket Richard Dawson added: "I would rather look at how we have played over our first five Championship games than merely at this one. That has been very encouraging. It was a good toss for Kent to win and batting wasn't easy on the first day, but in England you have to be able to cope with whatever weather conditions are thrown at you."