Ben Sanderson took a career-best 8 for 73 as Northamptonshire ended their 2016 season with a 114-run win over Gloucestershire at Wantage Road.
Needing to bat out the final day with eight-wickets in hand, George Hankins made a maiden first-class century but Sanderson saw Northants to a fourth win in their final six games taking four wickets with the second new ball.
Sanderson removed Gareth Roderick and Will Tavare on the third evening but took until after lunch on day three to add to his haul. He ended a fourth-wicket stand of 103 by having Chris Dent held at second slip and two balls later trapped Hamish Marshall lbw for a second-ball duck to revive his sides hopes.
They had slipped again as Hankins, with 116 to his name, and Phil Mustard moved Gloucestershire to 286 for 5 with 27 overs left in the day but Sanderson found movement with the second new-ball to beat the inside edge of Hankins to take out middle and leg stump - completing a fourth five-wicket haul of the season - and then trap Jack Taylor lbw for 5.
It left Northants with 23 overs to find three wickets and Sanderson had Craig Miles edging to second slip, Rory Kleinveldt forced David Payne into a tame chip to extra-cover before fittingly, Sanderson won the game by ending Mustard’s resistance, he also edged to second slip for a battling 79.
Sanderson finished the 2016 season with 55 County Championship wickets at 21.03. He said: “It was a very hot day and to get eight is just amazing. We knew that a couple with the new ball would give us a new lease of life and it wobbled just a little bit.
"We thought they were a bit short with the ball so we worked on our lengths to get a bit fuller and it proved key in both innings. I said I probably won’t beat the 7-for at Swansea but this is amazing, what a way to end the season.”
Sanderson’s career-best rendered Hankins’ own career-best 116 to a losing cause. He occupied the crease for over four hours on the final day, moving Gloucestershire towards a draw that looked unlikely with the visitors 151 for 5 an hour after lunch.
Hankins survived a verbal and short-ball barrage throughout the afternoon but showed excellent application to frustrate Northants. He ran keenly between the wickets and almost never missed out on a poor ball, pulling - once notably through mid-on - and cutting with confidence.
He was 95 not out at tea, he took just two overs to reach a maiden century in 154 balls with a dabbed single wide of point, with his father in attendance having dashed down from business in Leicester. He and Mustard shared 135 for the sixth wicket to repel Northants for a long part of the afternoon before Sanderson won the game with the second new ball.
Richard Dawson said afterwards: “Our aim for the day was just to bat out and if we’d batted the day, we may have been there for thereabouts. To be bowled out for 260 in the first innings wasn’t good enough and then in the second innings with the ball we weren't good enough.
“George is a natural scorer, he’s got every shot in the book, and to rein himself in he did very well and got his reward for patience and wearing the bowlers down.”