County occupy the box seat in Southampton

Luke Evans, who is out of contract at the end of the season, recorded career-best figures at the Rose Bowl

Luke Evans, who is out of contract at the end of the season, recorded career-best figures at the Rose Bowl

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Alex Wakely and Rob Newton each scored half-centuries as Northamptonshire tightened their grip on Hampshire at the end of the third day of the Championship clash at the Ageas Bowl.

Newton struck a rapid 59 and Wakely was 61 not out at the close as Northants reached 176 for five in their second innings from 45 overs, a lead of 256.

Only home captain Jimmy Adams batted with any resolution when Hampshire began the second day 125-2 in response to the Northants’ first-innings total of 356.

Adams’ third-wicket partner Liam Dawson was out without adding to his overnight 19 and James Vince continued his wretched first-class season when he was out two overs later for four.

Pace bowler Luke Evans dismissed them both to leg-before decisions and then David Willey reduced Hampshire to 176-6 by bowling Sean Ervine and winning another lbw appeal against Adams.

Adams faced 184 balls for his 73, an innings which included 13 fours, and resistance after his departure was only sporadic.

Evans came back to get rid of Chris Wood at 212 and Northants captain Andrew Hall polished off the Hampshire tail.

Hall had Michael Bates caught at second slip by David Sales for 28, Kabir Ali caught at the wicket for a breezy 31 and then last man David Balcombe at 276.

That gave Northants a substantial first-innings lead of 80 on a wicket which continued to help the quicker bowlers.

Hall finished with 3-35, but for former Durham bowler Evans the day was a personal triumph, finishing with career-best figures of 4-38.

Northants did not make the best of starts as they hastened to build on their first-innings success with Stephen Peters out in Ali’s first over and Niall O’Brien following to a catch at the wicket in the eighth.

When Sales fell to a catch by Vince in the slips off Balcombe, Northants were 62-3.

But then came a decisive stand of 99 in only 16 overs between Newton and Wakely as the Hampshire attack appeared to run out of ideas.

Newton hit Ali for six and then did the same to successive deliveries from James Tomlinson, smiting nine fours also from 41-ball innings which turned the match in Northants’ favour.

Tomlinson had Newton caught in the slips at 161 before Hall departed, but Wakely and James Middlebrook saw their side through to stumps.