Simon Kerrigan starred with 7-63 from 30 overs, the second best haul of his career, to help strengthen Lancashire's bid for promotion with an eight-wicket LV= County Championship victory over Northamptonshire at Wantage Road.
Lancashire were fired by their two SKs after Simon Katich had also scored a brilliant double century earlier in the match as they clinched the double over Northants following their eight-wicket win at Emirates Old Trafford last month.
Left-arm spinner Kerrigan ensured the hosts were bowled out for 241 in their second innings after after adding four wickets to his three during yesterday’s third day to go alongside the 9-51 he took against Hampshire at Liverpool in 2011.
Having conceded a first-innings lead of 132 to the new Division Two leaders on the stroke of tea on day three, it meant the Red Rose needed 110 to win in the last 47 overs of the match, which they did comfortably despite the early departures of Karl Brown and Ashwell Prince.
Andrea Agathangelou and Luis Reece both impressed with a third-wicket stand of 88 to clinch the 23 points with 16.3 overs to spare in the sunshine. Both wins against Northants have been secured by eight wickets.
Agathangelou hit six fours and three sixes, including one peach of a shot arrow straight off the spin of James Middlebrook on his way to 57 not out off 75 balls, his second score above 50 this summer, while Reece made a composed Championship best of 40 not out.
A third win on the spin puts the Red Rose in pole position to return to Division One at the first attempt. They go top of the table by a point with a game in hand on Northants and seven still to play, the first of those comes against Glamorgan at headquarters on Monday.
More importantly, the new leaders - for the first time this season - have also built a 39-point gap between them and third-placed Worcestershire, although that may yet change at the end of the current round of matches.
"It's an excellent win for us. It was a tough pitch to play on in terms of being a full four-day pitch and quite easy paced. It was one of those pitches where you've got to work hard, but we worked hard and played some really good cricket,” said captain Glen Chapple.
"Kat's a world-class player. Innings like that are not easy to play, so it was fantastic.
“Keggsy, by his own admission, thinks he can bowl better than that. But he gets a bit of rough and bowled brilliantly to their left-handers, which opened up the game for us. It was tough going until we got a few wickets.
"But wins don't come along like that just because of two players playing well. All eleven should take credit.”
Lancashire were delayed by partnerships of 72 for the fifth wicket and 44 for the ninth yesterday, both involving home captain Andrew Hall, who scored a determined 57 as he battled through a muscle injury in his backside.
He and Middlebrook, who top-scored in the innings with 75, shared the 72 for the fifth before Lee Daggett aided him in the ninth, but thankfully Kerrigan did some significant damage in between.
Hall and Middlebrook advanced the score from an overnight 123-4 to 180-4 before Kerrigan struck four times in 12 balls at a cost of only 10 runs, including the first three of them in four balls.
He had Middlebrook caught at deep backward square-leg by Kyle Hogg sweeping and Matt Spriegel caught at short-leg by Agathangelou in the space of three balls at the end of the 59th over before getting David Willey for a golden in a replica of the Spriegel dismissal with the first ball of the 61st.
He then trapped David Murphy lbw at the end of the 63rd, and Northants were 192-8.
After some lower order resistance from Hall and Daggett, captain Chapple wrapped up the innings by bowling Daggett and getting Hall caught and bowled with a superb one-handed effort after the ball had looped in the air off the splice. Chapple finished with 3-38 from 18.
Karl Brown fell for a golden duck with the seventh ball of the chase, caught at first slip off Azhraullah, and Ashwell Prince lbw to Middlebrook for 12 to leave Lancashire 22-2 in pursuit, but Agathangelou and Reece steadied the ship expertly.
Picture: Simon Kerrigan bowls to James Middlebrook, one of his seven victims today (c) Tony Marshall/EMPICS