Rudolph ton keeps Yorkshire's title hopes alive
Yorkshire 255 and 245 for 4 v Durham 213 and 340
Three late wickets by their former team-mate Mitch Claydon checked Yorkshire's cruise to victory against Durham, but with only 54 needed and six wickets standing they should stay in contention for the County Championship Division One title.
On a Chester-le-Street pitch becoming progressively flatter after 17 wickets fell on the first day, Claydon forced Jacques Rudolph to play on for 100 and reduced Yorkshire from 181 for one to 228 for 4.
Chasing a target of 299, they closed on 245 for 4, with skipper Andrew Gale unbeaten on 36 and nightwatchman Steve Patterson on three after surviving an impassioned first ball lbw appeal by Claydon.
Rudolph was troubled only by the swing of the luckless Chris Rushworth in racing to his fourth Championship century of the season off 137 balls, with 15 fours. He put on 113 with Adam Lyth, who fell for 48 when he tried to force away Ben Stokes' third ball off the back foot and edged to Michael Di Venuto at second slip.
First innings century-maker Anthony McGrath helped to take the total to 181 before Claydon struck. He forced Rudolph back with a ball of steep bounce, which the left-hander played down into his stumps, then McGrath sliced a drive to point, where Stokes held a good low catch.
In between those two wickets, Gale hit three successive balls from Claydon for four and it seemed he might want to claim the extra half hour for a three-day finish. But that was out of the question once Jonny Bairstow had departed for 13, edging Claydon to Phil Mustard.
The warning signs that the pitch was placid were there in the morning for Durham as their tailenders helped Dale Benkenstein add 133 to the overnight 207 for 6. Benkenstein never looked like getting out until he sensed he was running out of support after Liam Plunkett edged a drive to second slip and Claydon was lbw to the new ball.
Both had looked in no trouble, making 30 and 29 respectively, but after Rushworth was dropped on nought by Gale at cover Benkenstein dabbled outside off stump and edged to the wicketkeeper to fall for 74. Rushworth then hit four fours in an over off Patterson on his way to 28 before he was bowled by the second ball after lunch, giving Patterson his fourth wicket.
There were also four for Oliver Hannon-Dalby, continuing to deputise for Tim Bresnan, who arrived back from The Oval where he had been released by England in mid-afternoon.