Northamptonshire 147 and 41 for 0 trail Warwickshire 413 (Ambrose 103, Hain 85, Brookes 70) by 225 runs
Tim Ambrose made his 17th first-class century to give Warwickshire a chance to press for victory over Northamptonshire at Wantage Road with two days remaining. Ambrose made 103 as Warwickshire ground out 413 to take a first-innings lead of 266 before Northants, with 10 overs to face at the end of the day, closed on 41 without loss.
Ambrose, who made 81 last week against Sussex in the season opener, took his side from a strong position to a totally dominant one as he gained the measure of a slow wicket to work the Northants attack around. He nudged, prodded, glanced and flicked his way to 96-ball fifty with just one boundary - the long, heavy outfield making boundaries a rarity - before playing more fluently to raise a century in another 58 balls with five fours and a six.
For the latter half of his innings, he had 18-year-old Henry Brookes for company playing just his second first-class match. He settled to become a sound partner for Ambrose and repelled Northants' fightback with the second new ball to compile a record ninth-wicket partnership for Warwickshire against Northants of 116.
After Ambrose fell, caught on the deep square fence, Brookes took top billing as he worked his way towards a maiden first-class fifty. He got there with a mighty pull over midwicket off Brett Hutton and added a second to take Warwickshire past 400 as Northants wilted in 128.1 overs they were forced to send down.
The hosts had hope of a revival in the morning session where Doug Bracewell made the day's opening breakthrough with the 18th ball of the morning, straightening a full delivery to clip Will Rhodes' off stump to end a stand of 91 for the fourth wicket.
Sam Hain was the other member of the partnership and fell 15 short of memorable return to the ground where he become Warwickshire's youngest centurion in the County Championship four years ago. He resumed on 51 and struck two flowing cover drives on his way to 85. But Ben Sanderson hatched a plot with the wicketkeeper stood up and three catchers in front of the bat and got Hain to chip a full delivery to short midwicket where Bracewell claimed a smart catch down to his right.
Twenty-one-year-old Matt Lamb developed another useful stand with Ambrose of 66 for the sixth wicket before Lamb fell to the second new ball and Warwickshire slipped to 263 for 8 and the lead 116 - but Ambrose and Brookes ensured Warwickshire's advantage was far greater.
Northants had 10 overs to survive before the close and Rob Newton was almost stumped when he was deceived by Jeetan Patel. Some pad saved him and Newton and Ben Duckett, who avoided a king pair, went to the close intact.