Skipper Sam Whiteman’s first Northamptonshire century batted them to safety on the final day of the LV= Insurance County Championship match with Somerset at Taunton.

The visitors managed to extend their second innings from an overnight 66 for one to 311 for eight, the rock-solid Whiteman leading from the front with an unbeaten 130, off 269 balls, with 14 fours and a six.

The Yorkshire-born Aussie left-hander, in his first season as a Championship player, batted throughout the day, receiving excellent support from Tom Taylor, who contributed 53 to an eighth-wicket stand of 79 that frustrated a Somerset attack.

By the time the players shook hands at 5.40pm, Northamptonshire had a lead of 154, with a possible 11 overs remaining. They took nine points from the rain-affected contest, while Somerset, yet to win this season, claimed 12.

The home bowlers expected to have to toil for every wicket as Northamptonshire began the day 91 behind with both Australians at the crease.

So it proved, on a pitch, which had offered little in the way of seam movement or turn on day three. The opening attack of Craig Overton and Lewis Gregory went past the bat several times early on, but Whiteman and nightwatchman Jordan Buckingham survived and started to look increasingly comfortable.

Buckingham marked his Northamptonshire debut with an invaluable contribution, sharing a half-century stand with his skipper and facing 66 balls for his before being bowled advancing down the pitch to Leach.

By then Whiteman had reached a 104-ball fifty, with 5 fours and a six over mid-wicket off Leach. More importantly, 20 overs of the day had elapsed before Somerset made the breakthrough.

There was no shortage of effort or accuracy from the bowlers. Leach struck another blow when Hassan Azad, who had retired hurt with a hand injury the previous evening, offered a low return catch.

It was 147 for three at lunch, with Northamptonshire still ten runs behind. A Saif Zaib reverse sweep off Leach early in the afternoon session levelled the scores.

A draw was looking increasingly likely. But, having moved confidently to 33, Zaib lifted a ball from Overton to fine leg where Leach held a testing catch. At 174 for four, Northamptonshire were only 17 in front but Whiteman was well set and a pulled boundary off Gregory brought up the 200.

With a further ten added, Rob Keogh, on 14, failed to keep down a leg glance off Kasey Aldridge and Gregory held a sharp catch at backward short leg. It was 211 for six when a thinner glance saw James Sales depart for one to Gregory, wicketkeeper James Rew diving full length to his left to hold an impressive one-handed catch inches off the ground.

Harry Gouldstone quickly followed for a duck to another fine catch, this time by Tom Kohler-Cadmore at first slip, his task made more difficult by Overton diving in front of him to try and take the ball at second slip.

The lead was only 62 as Whiteman completed his hundred, a study in concentration occupying 179 balls, and found a partner in Taylor, who helped take the score to 254 for seven at tea.

Somerset’s last hope was the second new ball, available one over after the interval but it did little to unsettle either batsman. Taylor progressed to a 96-ball half-century in his first match of the season after returning from injury and by the time he also fell to a legside strangle, the lead was 141 and Northamptonshire were all but secure.

Ben Sanderson played his part at the death, batting for just shy of 40 minutes to soak up the pressure and ensure Somerset had no chance of a 10-over bash at victory.

But ultimately it was Whiteman’s day. Unbeaten on 29 at the start of play, by the close he had occupied the crease for more than six and three-quarter hours, a near flawless innings with the Captain’s armband on.