• Ton may not be enough to keep Worcestershire in top-flight
Phillip Hughes's second Championship hundred of the season prolonged Worcestershire's skirmish with Durham but might not prove enough to preserve their top-flight status.
Hughes, returning to county colours following a week's hiatus with Australia A, struck 104 at Chester-le-Street to extend his rich form in 2012. The unorthodox left-hander has proved an inspired acquisition by the Midlands county, topping the country's Twenty20 run chart with 402 and adding a further 498 runs in the Clydesdale Bank 40.
Watchful before lunch, Hughes expanded his range of stroke in the afternoon during the one period of the match in which bat dominated ball.
The 20th wicket fell within 20 minutes on day two but the 21st did not arrive for another 47 overs as the Worcestershire captain, Daryl Mitchell, combined in a 148-run opening stand.
When it did, it was the product of Hughes chasing a wide delivery from Ben Stokes, who earlier spilled the one chance offered by the Australian, on 67, diving forward at cover after a Graham Onions delivery caught a leading edge. His departure precipitated a Worcestershire collapse. They lost 10 wickets for 116 runs.
The vast majority of the visiting batsmen were culpable in their own demises, although that could not be said of Moeen Ali, who was spectacularly snapped up at short-leg low down by Will Smith off a thick inside edge to provide leg-spinner Scott Borthwick with one of his three wickets. Another Australian, the swing bowler Callum Thorp, was the chief beneficiary with a season's best five for 59.
Worcestershire's need for victory is two-fold. In addition to lifting them off the foot of the Division One table, it would keep Durham, pressing for a fourth straight win, in the relegation equation, and the visitors began their defence of a 151-run target positively when Smith played on to Chris Russell in the final over.
Another batting slump seriously undermined leaders Warwickshire's healthy position in their contest with Middlesex at Edgbaston. Openers Ian Westwood and Varun Chopra shared a 175-run stand, with the former hitting his second hundred of the campaign, but they plunged to 293 for eight by the close, an advantage of only six runs halfway through the contest.
Toby Roland-Jones, whose career haul of 118 first-class wickets have cost under 21 runs apiece, did the primary damage with the second new ball when he dismissed Rikki Clarke, Tim Ambrose and loanee Ian Blackwell in quicksuccession.
It was a similarly off-colour display from Division Two leaders Derbyshire, who resume on 163 for five on Thursday in response to Northamptonshire's 400 at Wantage Road.