Northamptonshire 385 and 42 for 2 trail Lancashire (Prince 153, Siddle 89, Kleinveldt 5-99) by nine runs
Lancashire retain an outside chance of a third successive victory at Wantage Road, after they took two Northamptonshire wickets before the close on the third day of their Championship match. The Division Two leaders lead by nine runs, with the home side 42 for 2 in the second innings after Lancashire were dismissed for 436.
Overnight rain saw play start two hours later than scheduled, with Lancashire resuming on 216 for 4. A swirling and unremitting gale necessitated the removal of the bails for virtually the whole day's play; such was its power that, at one stage, the umpires had to make sure the uncovered stumps stayed in the ground.
Rory Kleinveldt - who wore a beanie hat underneath his cap for extra warmth in the field - drew the short straw of bowling into the wind. But the powerful South African extracted bounce when Alex Davies chipped the catch to midwicket, after adding just four to his overnight score.
Jordan Clark negotiated four balls before edging Kleinveldt behind to Adam Rossington without scoring and, after the first 15 minutes of play, Lancashire were 221 for 6 and still 164 behind.
But Ashwell Prince, who was 104 not out overnight, found support from Peter Siddle, who batted sensibly while he and the 37-year-old added exactly 100 for the seventh wicket. The Australian, who had been ill 24 hours earlier, looked the picture of health at the crease, punishing anything loose from the Northamptonshire attack.
Prince was also reassuring, with his off-side drives a constant source of anguish for the home seam attack, one such stroke off Steven Crook bringing up his 150 off 268 balls. Crook then induced Prince to pop up to substitute David Murphy and Alex Wakely's side could be forgiven for relief after enduring Prince's career-best 257 not out in last year's innings defeat at Old Trafford.
Siddle returns home after Lancashire's next Championship game against Gloucestershire but he delivered for his employers here, reaching his 50 off 95 balls. But before visions of only a second first-class century became reality, he was lbw to Kleinveldt for 89, the fifth wicket for the South African and his first five-wicket haul in Northamptonshire colours.
Trailing by 51, Northamptonshire were hampered with Richard Levi not batting due to a dislocated finger. Replacement opener Rob Newton lasted just one delivery, caught at midwicket off Kyle Jarvis. Wakely's indeterminate waft outside off stump added more pressure when he edged Siddle for a catch behind to leave Northants wobbling on 13 for 2.
Despite a brief pause for bad light, Stephen Peters and Rob Keogh saw the home side to close for no further loss. But Siddle believes his side can claim victory, despite the pitch remaining true.
"It's not too bad out there, one end is a lot worse than the other to bowl at, so it's going to be hard work," he said. "We've just got to be patient. The wicket's not offering up much so we can just bowl in good areas and see what happens.
"I didn't expect to be out batting so soon today, but Ashwell Prince is a class player. He showed that again today. It was good fun. It was a bit windy and cold so I didn't want to bowl. So I thought if I batted longer, it would reduce my overs.
Northants Head Coach David Ripley is hopeful his side can see the final day out for the draw. "That was an important little partnership there between Stephen and Rob," he said. "It was a difficult session where Lancashire could come and give it everything and it was important that they got through those overs unscathed. We've still got to have a good first hour, hour and a half to hopefully get us the draw."