Gloucestershire and Derbyshire's Division Two County Championship clash ended in a draw at Bristol, after the visitors managed to easily bat out the final day.
Following a tremendous day for the hosts on day three where they built a 119-run first innings lead on the back of centuries from Liam Norwell and Chris Dent, they returned to Bristol on the hunt for wickets to force an unlikely victory.
It wasn't to be though, as they only managed to dismiss two Derbyshire batsmen in 76.5 overs, before the two captains shook hands and agreed on a draw.
Hughes and Rutherford share century stand after early Slater run-out
After Derbyshire had batted for 157 overs in their first innings, it looked as though they would be the only side with the ability of forcing a result due to the time they had taken out of the game. But after some excellent counter-attacking by the Gloucestershire batsmen, and nightwatchman Norwell, it was the home side who had forced the issue and had put themselves in position to attempt to force a victory on the final day.
For that to happen, early wickets were a virtue to put Derbyshire on the back-foot, and they were gifted their first scalp in the fifth over of the morning in the most unfortunate of circumstances for the batting side. Chesney Hughes had hit a gorgeous straight-drive down the ground, only for the bowler Norwell to get his fingertips on the ball, with it ricocheting into the stumps with the non-striker Ben Slater short of his ground. Slater was gone for six and Derbyshire were 6/1, still 113 behind their hosts.
That was all that Gloucestershire had to celebrate in the morning session though, as Hughes and Hamish Rutherford took their side through to lunch, all-but ending any chance of the match heading to a positive result for either side. Hughes went to his second half-century of the match off of 75 balls, which included ten boundaries, with Rutherford likewise finding the boundary on a number of occasions throughout the session against a weary bowling attack who may already have had one thought on their next match starting on Sunday at home to Worcestershire.
There were a number of half-chances, with edges and LBW shouts littered throughout the partnership up to lunch, but no breakthrough came and the two Derbyshire left-handers left the field, with the score at 105/1, meaning they were just 14 short of being level with Gloucestershire.
With the first delivery after the lunch break, Rutherford cracked Jack Taylor through the off-side, which bought up the century stand between the two not out batsman, as the game meandered towards a draw. Despite being scratchy at times, and failing to time the ball off the quick bowlers, Rutherford moved through to his 50 off 107 balls after hitting his sixth boundary of the innings, which at the time moved Derbyshire seven runs ahead.
Rutherford gifts wicket to Taylor before Hughes write's wrongs of first innings to score 8th first-class century
The 150 partnership was the next milestone to be reached, and it came after Hughes tucked Norwell off his hips for a boundary, taking the score to 157/1 and handing Derby a lead of 38.
Out of absolutely nowhere, Gloucestershire picked up their second wicket of the day, when Rutherford drove uppishly off the first ball of Taylor's new spell, where he was caught at extra cover by Dent who took a smart catch. Rutherford was gone for 78, and the 174-run partnership which lasted more than 50 overs was broken, but had done its job and saved the match for Derbyshire.
Having fallen for 96 when he looked certain to go through to his century in the first innings, Hughes made no such mistake in the second innings and trod extremely carefully once he was in the 90's.
The burly Anguillan took his time to reach three-figures, waiting for the bad ball, which came from Taylor short-and-wide outside off-stump, before cutting it away past point for his 16th boundary and the century his patience deserved. The century came on the cusp of tea and took 194 balls, giving Hughes his 8th first-class century for the county, and his second against Gloucestershire.
After reaching his century, and with the result of the game no longer in doubt, Hughes began to enjoy himself just before the tea-break. The centurion took a particular liking to the part-time spin of Ian Cockbain, playing some big shots in the final over before the interval to take his side to 219-2 ahead of the final session of the match with a lead of exactly 100.
The teams then came back out for an hour after tea, before the two captain's officialy shook hands, bringing an end to the encounter. Hughes remained unbeaten at the crease on 137, with Wayne Madsen at the other end on 27.
Gloucestershire will leave the game the happier of the sides having bagged 12 points from the match, with Derbyshire securing just eight in their opening fixture of the Summer.