Experienced duo Dale Benkenstein and Paul Collingwood were edging Durham towards a fourth successive LV= County Championship Division One victory after relegation-battling Worcestershire had enjoyed a flying start to day three at Chester-le-Street.
Starting Thursday morning on three for one in pursuit of a victory target of 151, Durham slumped to 35 for four with Alan Richardson sending back Keaton Jennings (three), Ben Stokes (eight) and Mark Stoneman (22).
However, 38-year-old Benkenstein (46 not out) and 36-year-old Collingwood (37no) dragged their side out of the mire with an unbroken stand of 86 to leave hosts Durham on 121 for four at lunch, needing just 30 more for victory.
Division One leaders Warwickshire enjoyed a decent morning against Middlesex at Edgbaston.
The title hopefuls added another 40 runs for their final two wickets to post 333 - a first innings lead of 46 - and then took two Middlesex scalps as the visiting side reached lunch on 68 for two.
In a battle between two other title contenders, Sussex's lower middle-order helped their side post a first-innings advantage of 32 over Somerset at Taunton.
Second-placed Sussex lost Steve Magoffin (11) early on to slip to 178 for seven but Ben Brown (52), Amjad Khan (57 not out) and Monty Panesar (20) took the fight to Somerset to help their side make 279.
Pakistan spinner Abdur Rehman finished with figures of five for 70 for Somerset, whose openers Marcus Trescothick and Arul Suppiah raced to 29 without loss by lunch to leave Sussex just three runs ahead.