A STEVE Rhodes century helped Worcestershire return to the top of the County Championship Division Two following a well earned draw against Nottinghamshire at New Road.

They are now two points clear of second-placed Warwickshire who have a game in hand.

Rhodes regarded Saturday's deadlock as a "morale victory" after his side had started the final day under the threat of defeat.

He said: "We are missing Vikram Solanki and Graeme Hick with England and our batting is a little bit inexperienced so we have to battle through.

It's imperative that in this period where we are without them that we don't lose ground.

"People may think we have only draw, but to us it was a moral victory because we were under the cosh."

Regarding the way the match planned out, Rhodes added: "I thought we'd play the game to its proper duration and get bowled out. Realistically, I didn't think we had much chance of getting a result with so few overs left.

"We had fought hard in this game to get ourselves back into it and the lads are on quite a high, so there was no point in losing confidence in a silly run chase."

Acting captain Rhodes led from the front in the County's fight-back by cracking 103 and found a century stand partner in former Notts left hander Paul Pollard.

Glenn McGrath and Kabir Ali also played a major role by stroking maiden fifties in a last wicket stand worth 103.

Pollard hit 74 and put on 85 in 38 with Rhodes after the County had started the last day just 79 ahead with five second wickets left.

Their joint efforts helped hoist the County to a rousing 431 and left Notts with the impossible task of scoring 358 to win in 16 overs. At the close they were 24-0.

For determined Rhodes it was the 11th first-class century of his career and his first since June 1998.

He had resumed on 14 and by the time he was out had plundered 13 fours off 218 deliveries.

Pollard's crucial contribution, which contained one six and ten fours off 216 balls, was his highest first-class score for the County.

He finally became one of the victims in a 5-123 haul for former Worcestershire spinner Richard Stemp - his first five wicket return for Notts.

When the visitors started to make headway by dismissing Pollard, Stuart Lampitt, Matthew Rawnsley and Rhodes they came up against another brick wall in the shape of McGrath and Kabir.

Their combined efforts produced an entertaining partnership which spanned 16 overs.

McGrath led the way with 55 including two sixes and seven fours off 50 balls while Kabir was undefeated on 50 which contained one six and five fours off 91 deliveries.