Durham and Lancashire tied their final Friends Life t20 North Group game at Chester-le-Street but their hopes of qualifying for the quarter-finals had ended earlier in the day.
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Both sides went into the game knowing a win could take them into the last eight as long as Essex lost against Hampshire.
But the washout at the Rose Bowl gave Essex the point they needed to go through. They would have stayed ahead of Durham on run-rate even if the Dynamos had won.
After Lancashire, who were put in, struggled to 133 for eight, Glen Chapple bowled superbly, going straight through his four overs to take one for 10.
He claimed the vital scalp of Herschelle Gibbs, who made seven before he was trapped in front after stepping across, trying to flip a straight ball to fine leg.
At the halfway stage Durham were 56 for one, 18 behind Lancashire's 10-over score.
Ben Stokes then hit Stephen Parry's fourth ball for a big six before driving the next, a full toss, straight into the hands of long-on.
Phil Mustard made 33 before driving a return catch to Gary Keedy then Gareth Cross claimed a catch and a stumping to send back Johann Myburgh and Gordon Muchall and set up the tense finish.
They needed 27 off the last three and after a lean series it was one-day skipper Dale Benkenstein who almost saw them home, making 28.
He had the target down to six off the last over then two off three balls. But he he tried to hook a bouncer from Ajmal Shahzad and the ball flew off the back of the bat to short cover.
A bye off the next ball tied the scores but when Gareth Breese tried to scamper a single off the last ball he failed to beat Paul Horton's direct hit from the same position in which he caught Benkenstein.
Breese and Borthwick conceded a total of 34 runs in eight overs between them as Lancashire imploded after a good start.
At 69 for one after nine overs they lost their way as three wickets went down for six runs.
Tom Smith tried to sweep Borthwick's second ball, hitting against the spin of a googly, and was lbw for 29.
Then Steven Croft was caught at long-on for 21 off Breese while Karl Brown set off for a suicidal single to silly point and was run out by Mustard.
Wicketkeeper Cross took Lancashire to a competitive total by making 26 before falling to the last ball of the innings.