Rudolph ton not enough to force Yorkshire win
Yorkshire 324 and 333 for 7 drew with Essex 399 and 296 for 36 dec
Despite a superb 106 from Jacques Rudolph, leaders Yorkshire could only manage a draw with Essex at Chelmsford after they had been set 369 runs to win in 83 overs.
Whilst the South African was at the crease, the visitors looked to have every chance of reaching their target as he played with supreme confidence, coaxing the ball around the field with classic timing.
Adam Lyth and Rudolph had launched the run-chase with a useful 79-run partnership before Lyth was stumped for 42, leaving Rudolph to orchestrate matters.
He reached his well-composed century from 144 deliveries that included ten boundaries and his third-wicket partnership with Andrew Gale put on a serenely effective 93 in 31 overs for the third wicket that gave their side the initiative, although the pair did spend 20 overs without hitting a boundary.
Gale was eventually bowled by spinner Tom Westley for 41 and, when Rudolph was bowled by slow left-armer Tim Phillips for 106, the visitors were 218 for four needing a further 151 in 23 overs.
Jonathan Bairstow and Gerard Brophy picked up the mantle, posting 92 in 15 overs, but then three wickets fell in 16 deliveries as Essex fought back. Brophy (28) was the victim of a superb two-handed diving catch by Matt Walker at cover off the bowling of Chris Wright and two balls later, the same bowler had Bairstow caught at wide long-on for a 66-ball 62 to leave the visitors 315 for 6.
Needing another 54 from six overs, they opted for survival as Essex now sensed the chance of victory and snared Tim Bresnan, stumped off Grant Flower, to raise their hopes.
However, Adil Rashid and Steven Patterson held out for the final five overs against a field gathered round the bat as Yorkshire finished on 333 for 7, 36 runs short of victory.
The home side had earlier added another 64 runs in 12 overs before declaring on 293 for 6 to set up the run-chase. During that period, Alastair Cook completed his century when he needed 16 balls to add the 10 runs to his overnight score that brought him to three figures, having faced 188 deliveries in total and struck 13 boundaries.
But he was out immediately afterwards with his score on 102 when pulling a delivery from Bresnan into the hands of Bairstow at deep square leg.
Although it was the England left-hander's 25th first-class century of his career, of which 10 have been made for Essex, it was the 25-year-old's first for his county since May 2007 and spanning 36 first-class innings for them in that time.
Essex take 10 points and Yorkshire eight to maintain their lead of Division One.