Hall and Sales propel Northants
Northamptonshire were boosted by fine performances from experienced campaigners David Sales and Andrew Hall as they moved into a position of strength against Hampshire at Wantage Road.
Hampshire conceded a first-innings lead of 64 when they were skittled before tea on day three for 154, with James Vince making an unbeaten 46 off 74 balls and Northants captain Hall taking 4-24.
The hosts then extended their lead to 240 by closing on 176 for five. Sales contributed 58 off 96 deliveries, the first half-century of the match.
Hampshire began the day on 42 for three, 176 runs behind their opponents, with their stand-in captain and former Australia batsman Simon Katich on four and Liam Dawson on 14.
Dawson moved on to 35 before he missed an attempted drive off David Willey in the 11th over of the day and lost his leg stump.
Hall brought himself on and took two wickets in three balls in the 33rd over. Lee Daggett took a good low catch at short midwicket to dismiss Katich for 13 and history repeated itself two balls later as the same combination did for Sean Ervine.
Hampshire wicketkeeper Michael Bates was next to depart, for a nine-ball duck, when he edged Daggett to Stephen Peters at third slip to leave the visitors floundering on 84 for seven.
The eighth-wicket pair of Vince and Chris Wood added 58 either side of lunch before the latter was trapped lbw by Willey for 26.
Balcombe soon followed when his off stump was taken out by Jack Brooks and Willey bowled David Griffiths for a duck to end the Hampshire innings.
Rob Newton went cheaply for 14 in the eighth over of Northants’ second innings when he edged Balcombe to give Dawson the easiest of catches at second slip.
Peters then fell on 22 when he was pinned lbw by Ervine and Kyle Coetzer followed in the third over after tea for 25, Dawson holding on to another chance off Balcombe.
Dawson claimed his sixth catch of the match when Alex Wakely nicked Wood to the cordon.
Sales went on to complete his half-century off 90 balls but eventually perished late in the day when he was adjudged leg before to give Dawson his first wicket.
At stumps, Hall was unbeaten on 29, with Niall O’Brien alongside on three.