Worcestershire 277 and 324 for 8 dec (D'Oliveira 81) beat Northamptonshire 148 (Rossington 55, Leach 5-70) and 142 (Henry 5-36) by 311 runs
Through fight, skill and sheer bloody-mindedness, Worcestershire secured their first win at Wantage Road since 2006, by 311 runs without the need for a fourth day. "At least we've got the day off tomorrow," said a non-playing employee clearing up in the members lounge, as the players left the field just before 6pm on day three.
They were probably oblivious to the fact that this was Northants' heaviest run defeat to Worcestershire and seventh worst against any side. Still, much of their season has been about locating that silver lining.
As a club, that comes in the form of a dressing room full of players reveling in each other's company, marching on as uncertainty looms around them. In performance, strong showings in white ball cricket - they top the North Group of the T20Blast and are still in the hunt for the latter stages of the Royal London Cup - offer a welcome antidote to a Championship summer that sees them winless, with 10 of 18 matches played.
Even so, you would struggle to excuse their second innings effort today. Faced with a target of 454 that was less carrot and more stick, they ambled their way through questionable drive after misguided swish across the line, before Monty Panesar added the comical run-up on top of the rotten cake that was their 142 all out.
"Only one or two escaped with their pride intact," said Northants head coach David Ripley, surveying the wreckage. He was almost impressed that his side managed to lose the match as emphatically as they did considering the position they were in on day one
With Worcestershire 54 for 5 inside the first 20 overs of the match, having chosen to bat first, a three-day finish was always on the cards. Yet it was the visitors endeavor that allowed them to turn things around. In typically bad form for guests, they outstayed their hosts and drank them out of victory beer. Worcestershire's attitude across the three days could not be faulted.
That's not to say that they did not have some redemption of their own to achieve. Their displays in limited overs cricket in the last month have stalled and victory here moves them into second, a point behind Division Two leaders Essex.
The work on day three began at the crease. Nightwatchman Ed Barnard might not have had much luck with the ball but, bat in hand, he pitched in with 34 alongside Ross Whiteley, who crunched three sixes in a 36-ball 45. One of those sixes - hit over wide mid off - caused such havoc in the balcony of the Spencer Pavilion that a few patrons went back inside until the Worcestershire innings was called to a halt at 324 for eight.
The 454 target on the electronic scoreboard, beaming next to Northamptonshire's second innings score, mocked them as much as the 148 on the other side. This game was lost when they conceded a lead of 129 in the first innings. But there were still wickets to be taken and, in Matt Henry's final Championship match of the season, he led the line with five for 36.
He was meant to have his feet up for this fixture. But when Kyle Abbott had to pull out because of a swollen foot, a call was put in to New Zealand to see if Henry could get clearance for this match. His last appearance for Worcestershire will come on Friday against the Birmingham Bears in the T20 Blast before he jets off the next morning to South Africa for a training camp, ahead of New Zealand's tour to Zimbabwe.
That international class was on show throughout today, particularly with the dismissal of Rob Newton: a good length ball that had the number three's feet neither forward nor back, leaving him at the last moment to take his outside edge through to Ben Cox. He did Rob Keogh (bowled) and Richard Levi (LBW) with a bit of extra zip, before the hook-happy pairing of Steven Crook and Seekuge Prasanna gave him a maiden five-fer for Worcestershire. He ends with 27 wickets across six Championship matches.
Joe Leach continued his fine season with two for 49 to add to his season's best five for 70 that he achieved in the first innings. He is now the leading wicket-taker in the Division with 38. George Rhodes, son of Worcestershire's director of cricket Steve Rhodes, also nabbed his maiden Championship wicket - Cox taking a skier off Ben Sanderson - to dollop more cheer into Worcestershire's red ball pot. Northants continue to stew in theirs.