Lancs up as Durham move clear
Lancashire sealed promotion to County Championship Division One on Saturday, while Durham moved clear at the summit of the top flight.
Lancashire secured promotion back to Division One after drawing their last home match of the season with Leicestershire at Emirates Old Trafford.
The Red Rose county claimed 11 points from the weather-affected fixture and saw their return to the top flight confirmed as rain and bad light conspired to deny third-placed Essex a victory at Kent.
Saturday's results ensure runaway leaders Lancashire return to Division One with two matches remaining, against Gloucestershire at Bristol and Kent at Canterbury.
Winless Leicestershire battled hard on day four as they successfully avoided their eighth defeat of the season.
Resuming the final day on 60 for three in reply to Lancashire's first-innings 453 for seven declared, Ben Raine was instrumental in their close of play score of 329 all out with a career best 72 off 162 balls, including eight fours and a six.
At a gloomy Canterbury, the weather limited the final day's action to 28.4 overs as Essex were frustrated against Kent.
Some 64 overs were lost on Saturday, enabling the hosts to reach 215 for seven in their second innings and wriggle off the hook to claim a draw.
Kent banked six points for their 10th draw of the campaign to ensure it will be Leicestershire who suffer the ignominy of collecting the Championship wooden spoon.
Essex made the short journey home with eight points but their failure to win ensures they now trail second-placed Northamptonshire by 21 points - a gap they are unlikely to make good with only two matches of the campaign remaining.
The remaining Division Two match between Worcestershire and Hampshire drifted to a rain-affected draw at New Road.
In Division One, Durham went 27.5 points clear at the summit after Graham Onions and Chris Rushworth inspired them to a stunning nine-wicket victory at Derbyshire.
For more than three days there had been little between the Division One leaders and a Derbyshire side needing victory to help them avoid relegation, but Onions and Rushworth exploited encouraging swing bowling conditions as the hosts were all out for a paltry 63 in 29.1 overs.
Onions produced a spell of five wickets for four runs in 41 balls and Rushworth claimed three for 31 to leave Durham's batsmen with a victory target of 37, which they reached in 7.5 overs for the loss of just one wicket to go clear at the top of the table following Yorkshire's draw at Sussex.
Durham could now clinch the title by winning at home to Nottinghamshire next week.
Yorkshire's hopes of closing the gap on Durham were frustrated by rain at Hove.
After Yorkshire had sent down 30 overs of joke bowling to set up a run chase against Sussex, their pursuit of a target of 300 in 64 overs was ended after 20 overs following a torrential downpour.
Yorkshire had reached 81 for two when the players shook hands.
Somerset eased their relegation worries by beating Surrey by seven wickets in a dogfight at Taunton.
At the start of the day Surrey lost their remaining six wickets for the addition of 100, four of which fell to Craig Meschede.
Chasing 133 for victory, Somerset raced to their target in 23.4 overs, as an unbeaten 36 from James Hildreth and Craig Kieswetter's 34 not out saw them across the line with 21 valuable points.
At Lord's, Nottinghamshire eased their relegation worries by picking up two valuable bowling bonus points before their game against Middlesex ended in a weather-ravaged draw.