Worcestershire's 2016 promotion hopes were ended after leaders Essex triumphed by an innings and 161 runs inside three days of the Specsavers County Championship clash at Chelmsford.
Essex extended their first innings total to 601-5 declared this morning – a lead of 371 – and then bowled out Worcestershire for 210 in barely two sessions.
George Rhodes top-scored with 41 and there was another 35 from keeper Ben Cox for the visitors who never recovered from being bowled out for 230 by veteran paceman David Masters on the first day after electing to bat.
Today it was another old boy in Graham Napier, who is retiring at the end of the season, inflicting most damage with 5-59.
In truth Essex were dominant for all eight and a half sessions from the moment Masters claimed three wickets in an over on that first morning when Worcestershire slumped to 48-5.
It was their third successive win by an innings.
Essex batted on for 68 minutes in the morning while adding 89 to their overnight 512-4 and losing the wicket of their double-centurion Tom Westley.
Westley had put on 165 for the fifth wicket with skipper Ryan ten Doeschate before he was called by his captain for a quick single to backward point and failed to beat Brett D’Oliveira’s direct throw.
His 254 had spanned 383 balls and included 38 fours.
Ten Doeschate reached 1,000 runs for the season when he reached 92 with a push into the onside. His hundred arrived from 114 balls with a straight-drive off Ed Barnard.
James Foster (37 not out) helped ten Doeschate (109 not out) towards the declaration with an unbroken stand of 68 in 10 overs.
Worcestershire skipper Daryl Mitchell edged the fifth ball of the innings at shoulder-height to third slip where Nick Browne failed to cling onto the chance off Jamie Porter.
But on 19 Mitchell was bowled to the final ball before lunch from Masters which kept low.
The fourth ball after the interval from Napier accounted for D’Oliveira (25) as it reared up off a length and took the outside edge on its way through to keeper Foster.
Napier was despatched for two straight-driven fours in three balls by Joe Clarke (22) but gained his revenge in the next over when he dragged a wide one on to his stumps.
Browne, now out of the slips, atoned for his earlier drop when he pulled off a stupendous flying catch at backward point to account for Tom Fell (18) off Will Rhodes.
Ross Whiteley and Rhodes put on 50 in 10 overs in mid-afternoon with some lusty hitting mixed with careful defence.
But Westley’s off-spinners accounted for both of them.
Whiteley (15) went to Westley’s fourth ball, lbw to one that kept low, and Rhodes was brought forward to become James Foster’s first stumping victim in the Championship this season.
Joe Leach (1) was bowled by Napier and Ed Barnard (12) edged him to Westley at second slip.
Cox chipped one to Jamie Porter at mid-on to give Masters his ninth wicket of the match.
Napier’s fifth wicket wrapped up the match when Ten Doeschate dashed in at mid-off to catch Jack Shantry (18).