WARWICKSHIRE underlined their County Championship title-chasing credentials by completing a four-wicket win over fellow challengers Essex inside three days at Edgbaston.

The story of seam-bowling dominance continued into the third day as Essex were bowled out in their second innings for 215.

Chris Rushworth exploited helpful overhead conditions to finish with four for 62 (eight for 90 in the match) while Hassan Ali took four for 48.

That left a victory target of 100 and, as batting remained far from straightforward, Warwickshire had to work hard to get there, reaching 100 for six from 27.2 overs.

The skills of Rushworth and Hassan, ably supported in the seam department by Olly Hannon-Dalby and Ed Barnard, were the decisive factor in a fast-moving match which yielded a result on the third day despite the loss of 41 overs to the weather on the first two.

A first defeat of the season came as a jolt for Essex after their impressive display in the draw against champions Surrey last week.

Warwickshire’s third win in five games continued a strong start that has far exceeded expectations after they avoided relegation by the skin of their teeth last September.

After Essex resumed on the third morning on 86 for four, still trailing by 30, overnight pair Matt Critchley and Michael Pepper took their side in front but neither lasted much longer as three wickets fell in 15 balls.

Critchley edged Hassan to Rob Yates at first slip and Rushworth pinned Pepper lbw and had Doug Bracewell brilliantly caught by Sam Hain at second slip.

Simon Harmer (50 not out, 79 balls) and Shane Snater (31 runs, 32 balls) attacked effectively to ensure they would at least have something to bowl at, but the relentless seam team kept nagging away.

Snater was snared lbw by Hannon-Dalby, and Hassan had Sam Cook caught at long leg and Jamie Porter taken at slip.

Chasing 100 in a minimum of 73 overs Warwickshire had plenty of time, but Alex Davies sought to do the job quickly and fell lbw to Cook when he missed an attempt to send the ball into the River Rea.

Batting remained awkward as Essex’s seamers showed their skills. Yates edged Porter into the cordon and when Bracewell produced two superb away-cutters to remove Hain and Will Rhodes in three balls, it was 65 for four and Essex had a glimmer of hope.

Dan Mousley and Barnard added an important 21 and, though the dismissal of Mousley and Michael Burgess in successive overs had a few home nerves jangling at 91 for six, Barnard (23 not out, 28 balls) steered his team home.