WORCESTERSHIRE have a mountain to climb if they are to avoid a County Championship Division Two defeat at Northamptonshire.

Centuries from Dwaine Pretorius and Alex Wakely and a fine new-ball spell from Ben Sanderson put the hosts firmly on course for victory at Wantage Road.

Pretorius made 111 on his Championship debut and Wakely 102 to help Northants take a first-innings lead of 190.

Sanderson then claimed 4-13 in nine overs to leave the visitors on 42-4 at the close of day two, trailing by 148.

County captain Joe Leach said: “We’ve strung too bad days together so we’ve got an uphill task from here but it’s one we’ve got to be prepared to take on.

“It’s a good wicket to bat on but Sanderson’s spell was incredible.

"It was a tough period for us but we’ve got to keep looking to improve.

"But there’s still a lot of batting to come and we bat all the way down.

“We’ve got to aim to try to get up to what they made in their first innings and if we can set a number the ball is starting to spin and we’ve got an international spinner (Moeen Ali).”

The dominant hosts ground out 123.1 overs with the bat to make 376 before Sanderson seized his chance with the new ball in 17 overs left at the end of the day.

He drew edges from Daryl Mitchell to second slip for four and from Jack Haynes to the wicketkeeper for 19.

Another one nipped away to flick the off stump of Callum Ferguson for a four-ball duck before he brought one back to pin Alex Milton lbw for an eight-ball duck.

Northants' day was set up in the morning session by Wakely and Pretorius who arrived at the wicket after Nathan Buck was struck on the head on the first evening.

Pretorius slogged Moeen for two sixes but should have been held on 25 when he lifted the off-spinner to mid-off only for Leach to spill a straightforward chance.

He reached his 50 in 67 balls and reached three figures off 136 deliveries with 14 fours.

But Pretorius swung Ed Barnard to point soon after, becoming the County’s third wicket with the second new ball.

The first of those was Wakely but only after a hard-earned ninth first-class century.

Returning on 63, he put in a grinding effort for a ton on a slow wicket in 233 balls with nine fours and a six.

Wakely could only add one to his lunchtime score before shouldering arms to a Wayne Parnell inswinger and losing his off stump.

Adam Rossington also lost his off stump for one to a beauty from Leach.

After losing Pretorius, Northants got stuck, failing to reach a fourth batting point despite only needing 26 in 11 overs.