WORCESTERSHIRE’S escape from relegation was confirmed as their hosts Durham were denied the LV= County Championship Division One title.

Hampshire’s failure to grab maximum batting points against Warwickshire ensured they will finish below Steve Rhodes’ side in the final table and join Yorkshire in suffering the drop.

The loss of the Rose Bowl side’s ninth wicket gave the men from Edgbaston a third bowling point, ensuring Durham cannot overtake them.

But Durham will be confident of finishing the season with their eighth win tomorrow.

Worcestershire closed the third day on 65-2, 300 runs behind, with Graham Onions taking the wickets after a wayward start.

Daryl Mitchell made 35 off 24 balls when Onions skidded one through to bowl him and he then had first innings century-maker Vikram Solanki caught behind for a duck.

Dale Benkenstein’s knock was among four half-centuries in Durham’s second-innings 388, Mark Stoneman top-scoring with 75.

Alan Richardson took 3-46 to finish with 73 wickets for the season, while Gareth Andrew reached 50 when he pinned Benkenstein lbw for 63.

Having opened with six maidens on the second evening, Richardson again commanded great respect in the morning and conceded only six runs off his first 12 overs.

But runs flowed off Kemar Roach as Will Smith and Michael Di Venuto took their stand to 82 before Andrew nipped one back to have Smith lbw for 37.

Di Venuto (55) fell when he bottom-edged off Richard Jones into his stumps.

After making 24, a miscued pull off Roach saw Paul Collingwood lob to square leg.

Stoneman’s innings ended when he was adjudged lbw to Moeen.

Ian Blackwell and Benkenstein put on 96 before they departed in successive overs to Andrew with extra bounce accounting for the former.

Richardson did the rest as the last six wickets went down for 50 runs, 27 of which were thrashed by Mitch Claydon.