Hampshire batted through the final day to force a draw in their crucial clash with Somerset at the bottom of the LV= County Championship Division One table.
Jimmy Adams led the way with 136 while defiant half-centuries from James Vince and Will Smith ensured Hampshire took a seven-point draw from a game that they were chasing from the afternoon of the opening day.
Somerset were unable to break Hampshire’s determination and had to settle for 13 points from a game they would have hoped to have won.
That was enough for Somerset to draw level with Sussex in the table, and open up an 11-point gap over Hampshire, who have two matches to try and overturn that gap and get out of the drop zone.
Hampshire resumed on 258 for one, Adams unbeaten on 117 and Vince not out on 69, still needing 132 to make Somerset bat again.
The hosts took the new ball second delivery of the day and in the sixth over of play Craig Overton from the Ricer End made the break through that Somerset needed when he had Vince caught at gully by Tom Abell trying to cut.
— Hampshire Cricket (@hantscricket) September 12, 2015
Two overs later the rain started to fall and the players left the field for a 45-minute rain break.
When the game re-started with the loss of 12 overs, Adams and Smith took Hampshire through until lunch by which time the total had moved onto 309 for two.
Peter Trego opened the attack at the River End and with his second over had Adams pushing forward caught by wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi for 136, his runs coming off 313 balls including 19 fours.
There was no further joy for the Somerset bowlers and by the time tea was taken Hampshire were 370 for three with Smith unbeaten on 36 and Dawson 31 not out.
In the sixth over after tea Smith went to a patient half-century when he took two off Jack Leach who wheeled away during the afternoon without success. Smith’s fifty came off 160 balls and included six fours and a six.
Next over Smith, without addition, drove occasional off-spinner Tom Cooper to mid-on where substitute fielder Calvin Harrison took the chance, which made Hampshire 386 for four.
New batsman Sean Ervine took a boundary off Leach in the 150th over to put Hampshire ahead.
At 4.20pm the players shook hands with Hampshire on 411 for four, Dawson unbeaten on 44 and Ervine 13 as the game ended in a draw.
Hampshire captain Vince said: “We are happy with a draw after the way we started the game.
“We didn’t have the ideal first innings on a wicket like that and we put ourselves under pressure.
— Somerset Cricket (@SomersetCCC) September 12, 2015
“To have to bat 159 overs to save the game – this is as good a place as any to do it. We had the opportunity and applied ourselves well and there was some good confidence from an individual point of view as well.
“The wicket stayed pretty much the same throughout. Somerset obviously thought they would get better conditions bowling first but then it got flatter and flatter as the game went on.
“This was definitely the flattest pitch we have had all year to play on.”
Somerset’s Marcus Trescothick added: ”It was a good pitch and obviously too good to try and force a result, them not losing many wickets for the last two-and-a-half days.
“However it is what it is and we have been in this position before. We cant do anything about it and we now have to move on and get down the Sussex.
“I think we have done a lot of good things over the course of this game. Obviously bowling them out on the first day was brilliant. Getting the most out of the pitch and knocking them over and then getting the runs at the rate we did and the volume we did was pretty good.
“It was important to do this in order to give us the opportunity to win.
“We had pretty much two days to bowl them out again so its just disappointing that we were unable to do so.”
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