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County Championship Division 2
County Ground, Chelmsford
LV County Championship - Division Two
Chelmsford - day three
Essex 144 (T Westley 72, C M Willoughby 5-36) & 349 (J S Foster 96, T J Phillips 68, A J Bichel 60 no, C M Willoughby 4-53) v Somerset 312 (J C Hildreth 61, M E Trescothick 59, N J Edwards 55, Danish Kaneria 7-95) & 184-4
Somerset (20pts) beat Essex (3pts) by 6 wkts
Somerset secured the Division Two title with their ninth win of the season against Essex at Chelmsford.
Peter Trego's quick-fire 44 ensured the visitors had little problem chasing down a victory target of 182, after resuming on the third morning at 50-1.
Trego smashed eight fours and a six from 30 balls before becoming one of Andy Bichel's three wickets.
But an unbroken fifth-wicket stand between James Hildreth (32no) and Neil McKenzie (33no) allowed Somerset to secure a six-wicket success.
The result also ends Essex's promotion hopes as they cannot now finish second in Division Two.
Essex put up a fight on day two but it looks as though Somerset will secure the division two title on Friday.
Set a target of 182 for victory, the visitors reached 50 for the loss of Marcus Trescothick on a pitch increasingly taking spin - giving Essex leggie Danish Kameria some hope of adding to his seven wickets in the first innings.
The hosts wrapped up Somerset's first dig with just 28 added to the overnight score of 284-6 - Kaneria claiming 7-95 with Andy Bichel picking up two wickets.
Essex improved markedly on the 144 they scored in the first innings, making 349 with James Foster top scoring on 96.
The former England keeper added 135 with Tim Phillips (34) for the fourth wicket and 74 with Ryan Ten Doeschate (68), before falling to leg-spinner Michael Munday's first ball after tea.
Bichel then smashed 60 off 68 balls to give his side something to bowl at, but Somerset should make the 132 runs they require for victory and the title.
Somerset are halfway to towards the 10 points they require to secure the Division Two title after the opening day's play.
Having bowled Essex out for 144, the Somerset batsmen built up a significant lead despite the attentions of Essex leg-spinner Danish Kaneria.
The Pakistan international took all six Somerset wickets to fall, but the visitors still take a lead of 140 in the second day.
Essex chose to bat but it was only the efforts of 18-year-old Tom Westley that spared them humiliation - the youngster making exactly half his side's runs before he became one of Charl Willoughby's five victims.
The South African took 5-36 while Paul Trego and Ian Blackwell took two wickets apiece.
Somerset made batting look a whole lot easier, Marcus Trescothick (59) and Neil Edwards (55) hitting rapid-fire half centuries in an opening stand of 114.
Kaneria removed both in his third over but Justin Langer (43) and James Hildreth (61) ensured Somerset held the upper hand before Kaneria got rid of them too.
Blackwell and Trego also succumbed to the leg-spinner, who has now taken 72 championship wickets and taken five wickets in an innings on seven occasions.