Hampshire 455 and 98 for 3 lead Kent 321 for 7 dec. (Harmison 63*, Stevens 60, Northeast 59) by 232 runs
Kent's stand-in captain Geraint Jones breathed new life into the third day at Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl with a challenging declaration after the follow-on had been saved.
Hampshire ended the day on 98 for 3 in their second innings, a lead of 232 after Jones had declared 134 behind in a bold bid to end his team's winless start to the season.
The whole of the first session was washed out by heavy rain but play resumed after the lunch break with Kent on 149 for 4, still needing 157 to avoid the humiliation of following on. Their plight worsened seven runs later when Brendan Nash edged an outswinger from James Tomlinson into the slips where the reliable Liam Dawson pouched the opportunity.
But that brought Darren Stevens to the crease and in a belligerent stand of 102 in 20 overs with Ben Harmison, potential embarrassment was averted comfortably.
Stevens lifted Tomlinson for six while taking 14 from the over and Kent had no problems until at 258, Stevens played across the line to the fourth ball of James Vince's first over. Stevens had made 60 and Kent were well on their way to safety even though Harmison departed five runs short of the follow-on target, driving David Balcombe to Danny Briggs at square cover.
Harmison hit a six off Liam Dawson and nine fours from 121 balls during his innings of 63 and at 321 for 7, Jones called a halt to the Kent innings.
Hampshire, not much better off with only one win in six matches, made a poor start to their second innings, losing James Adams and Michael Carberry with only 12 on the board. Adams went in the second over, caught behind by Jones off Matt Coles for his third duck in four innings and Charlie Shreck had Carberry leg before in the third.
First innings century-maker Neil McKenzie carried on where he left off with six fours in his quick-fire 27 before chopping a delivery from Coles into his stumps. That saw Hampshire 53 for 3 but Dawson and Vince saw their team through to stumps with an unbroken stand of 45 to set up the prospect of an intriguing last day.