Ryan ten Doeschate's first Championship century of the summer and a fighting 95 from skipper James Foster ensured Essex comfortably secured a draw from their Division Two match against Northamptonshire at Colchester.
The duo's efforts helped Essex to post 396 in response to the visitors' 531 and the contest petered out into a tame draw as Northamptonshire closed at 54 without loss in their second innings.
The only chance of a positive result, after the third day had been completely washed out by rain, was dependent on Northants capturing the remaining Essex first innings wickets cheaply after the home side resumed on 187-5 in pursuit of 382 to avoid the follow-on.
But thanks largely to ten Doeschate and Foster, that was to prove beyond them, the sixth wicket pair carrying their partnership to 180 before they were separated on the stroke of lunch.
In the same over in which he reached his century, ten Doeschate departed when he turned off-spinner James Middlebrook into the hands of Ben Duckett at forward short leg.
Ten Doeschate's 103 from 144 deliveries contained nine fours and a straight driven six against Middlebrook, and Foster looked set to claim his second century of the campaign before he, too, was removed by Middlebrook. His effort had brought him 11 boundaries.
Graham Napier weighed in with a fluent 45 from 66 balls while David Masters, who ensured that the follow-on would be averted when driving Azharullah to the boundary, was left unbeaten on 37 when the Essex innings was brought to an end.
Left with a minimum of 32 overs of the match to play, openers Stephen Peters and Middlebrook played out 12 overs before the two captains shook hands on a draw as Essex collected 8 points and Northamptonshire 10 points.