Worcestershire opener Brett D'Oliveira scored his maiden Specsavers County Championship century and a career best 128 on day three of the encounter with Essex at New Road.

D'Oliveira reached the milestone between lunch and tea off 134 balls with 16 fours.

The 24-year-old punched the air with delight, looked to the heavens and then acknowledged his team-mates after a two through the covers off Graham Napier took him to three figures. 

It enabled Brett to emulate the achievements of grandfather Basil and father Damian.

Basil had also scored his first Championship hundred for the County against Essex at New Road in May 1965 – and followed it up with another ton at Brentwood in the return fixture. 

Damian's first Championship century came in June 1983 against Middlesex at New Road.

An opening excellent  stand with skipper Daryl Mitchell gave the County the perfect start in reply to Essex's 451-9 declared after vice-captain Joe Leach had claimed five wickets during the morning session.

It was eventually broken on 179 shortly after tea when Mitchell was bowled by Graham Napier for a solid 66.

Brett D'Oliveira looked in good nick from the start of his innings with a series of drives, cuts and flicks off his legs.

He collected three boundaries in succession off Graham Napier and went to his 50 off 52 balls with nine fours.

Mitchell had an early-off when dropped at second slip by Tom Westley on nine off Jamie Porter.

But the Worcestershire captain gradually blossomed with his stroke play and he cut the first ball from Westley for his eighth four to bring up his half century from 73 deliveries.

After his dismissal, Moeen Ali was quickly into his stride with two boundaries off Napier but they were his only scoring shots before he was caught behind by James Foster off the same bowler at 189-2.

Joe Clarke (2) edged to  Alastair Cook at first slip – via the gloves of Foster – off David Masters before Brett D'Oliveira's fine knock ended when Jesse Ryder held onto a chance at short mid wicket from the bowling of Porter.

Napier claimed a third success in the next over when Ross Whiteley was lbw after failing to trouble the scorers at 222-5.

In the morning session vice-captain Leach picked up four wickets in the space of 23 balls.

He took full advantage of the second new ball and produced the sort of spell which helped him to finish as the County's leading wicket-taker in the Championship with 59 victims last summer.

It enabled Worcestershire to pick up two bowling bonus points after Essex had resumed on 335-2 from 90 overs.

Leach made his first breakthrough when Ravi Bopara played back and had his middle stump flattened without adding to his overnight 48. One of the bails flew 25 yards towards the boundary.

Daniel Lawrence failed to open his account before driving at Leach and nicking through to Tom Kohler-Cadmore at first slip.

Jesse Ryder (0) was trapped lbw by Leach who then produced a stunning low one-handed catch of his own bowling to end England Test skipper Alastair Cook's fine innings on 142.

Cook struck one six and 22 fours in his 284 ball innings.

James Foster and Ryan ten Doeschate added 73 in 10 overs to secure maximum batting points for Essex with Worcestershire picking up two bowling points.

Leach was rested after a morning spell of 9-2-34-4 and his replacement Ed Barnard accounted for Ten Doeschate, lbw for 28.

Jack Shantry was hit for successive sixes by Graham Napier but in the same over he holed out to Matt Henry at long on for 16.

Leach came back to complete his nap hand when David Masters (1) was on the end of a superb diving catch at extra cover by Barnard at which point Essex declared on 451-9.

Leach finished with 5-115 from 27.4 overs.