WITH Durham on the crest of a slump they will be grateful that two of the teams still below them in the table meet at Taunton next week.

Hampshire's seven-wicket win at Chester-le-Street lifted them into the second relegation spot, five points behind Somerset and 33 behind Durham with a game in hand.

It seems inconceivable that whoever loses at Taunton can overhaul Durham, but after gathering only ten points from their last three games Paul Collingwood's men have gone from title aspirants to relegation outsiders.

Injuries to Paul Coughlin, Usman Arshad, Jamie Harrison and Peter Chase have left them short of bowling support, which was exposed as Hampshire chased down a target of 163.

James Vince, who took over the captaincy before the home draw against Durham in July, knuckled down to survive a testing start and waited for the right ball to put away in guiding his side home with an unbeaten 76.

He was helped by Liam Dawson, who contributed 34 to the unbroken stand of 82 as Durham realised the game was up and allowed the last 64 runs to come off 6.3 overs.

After the morning session was lost to rain, confirmation that batting was not as difficult as might have been expected came through Chris Rushworth making an unbeaten 33 off 34 balls before Durham were all out for 200.

He hooked and drove Gareth Berg for two sixes prior to trying to add to his 85 first-class wickets this season.

He had to wait until the 12th over, when Michael Carberry was on 21 and there had been 11 extras, before Jimmy Adams shouldered arms and was bowled for three.

Rushworth also troubled Vince but the total advanced to 75 before Carberry fell for 39 when he skied a pull off Onions and Michael Richardson ran 25 yards to hold a tumbling catch at square leg.

The wicketkeeper then held a regulation catch off Onions to send back Will Smith for one, but the new-ball pair had bowled 11 overs each by that stage.

Onions kept going for two more overs but was clearly flagging in his 13th, and the double change took the pressure off.

After conceding only one run in his first two overs, John Hastings' next two cost 19. James Weighell opened up with a maiden and was hit for three fours in his second over, one off a thick edge, as Vince passed 50 off 54 balls with 11 boundaries.

Weighell wasn't helped by four overthrows in his next over, which cost nine, and when Rushworth returned for a last, forlorn throw of the dice Dawson pulled him for six.

Durham seemed to take the muck-or-nettles approach when they resumed their second innings on 126 for six, 88 ahead, adding 74 in 15.3 overs.

Berg took two wickets in two balls in the fourth over, having Ryan Pringle caught behind for 13 and John Hastings lbw.

Umpire Jeremy Lloyds, of whom Durham have seen rather a lot recently, took several seconds to give the second decision. There was also some doubt about the first, adding to Pringle's misfortune after he was mistakenly given out for 99 in the first innings.

Left-hander Weighell hit two fours off Ryan McLaren in reaching 20 before Fidel Edwards came on and yorked him with his first ball.

The West Indian retired with a hamstring injury after bowling eight balls, although his exit did allow Ryan Stevenson to claim his maiden first-class wicket.

He had Onions caught at point by Jimmy Adams, ending a last-wicket stand of 36 in 28 balls. It was fun while it lasted, but Durham needed another hundred runs.