Hamish Rutherford celebrates his hundred

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Worcestershire 254 for 9 (Rutherford 126) beat Northmptonshire 234 (Parnell 3-45) by 20 runs

Hamish Rutherford"s third century of the season helped Worcestershire to a third win in the Royal London Cup as they beat Northamptonshire by 20 runs at Wantage Road.

Rutherford made 126 in 134 balls, adding to his centuries at Grace Road in the County Championship and Old Trafford in the first game of the RLC, in a lone hand as Worcestershire, sent in, struggled to 254 for 9.

But they staged a classic defence with pace off the ball in the middle overs to squeeze the Northants chase. At 126 for 3 after 30 overs, the home side were well placed but couldn"t resist trying to force Brett D"Oliveira"s legspin and Daryl Mitchell"s gentlest of medium pace. The pair claimed four wicket to tame the hosts.

Northants needed 82 from the final 10 overs and Luke Procter kept them alive with an unbeaten 35 but he ran out of partners as they subsided to 234 and a fourth defeat from five matches, realistically ending their hopes of qualification for the knockout stage.

Worcestershire claimed a third win in four and they were indebted to Rutherford, the New Zealander who has proved superb value for money in his short stint. His 10th List A century here held together a clumsy Worcestershire display.

They slipped to 23 for 3 in the Powerplay before Rutherford finally found a partner in D"Oliveira and the pair added 84 in 14.2 overs. Rutherford drove Buck down the ground for the day"s first stroke of note before punching Ian Holland - on loan to Northants from Hampshire - over mid-off for four and then straight over the bowler"s head for six.

D"Oliveira fell for 28 - a ball that jumped off a length to take the glove to point - but Ben Cox arrived to build another useful stand to take Worcestershire to 166 for 4 in the 32nd over and well-placed. But Cox swept at a full ball from Josh Cobb"s part-time offspin and it sparked a collapse of 4 for 22 in 7.3 overs; Cobb also took out Wayne Parnell"s middle stump trying to cut while Rob Keogh had Ross Whiteley bowled second ball and Ed Barnard caught at short-fine leg.

Josh Tongue finally proved another competent partner for Rutherford and the pair added 59 for the ninth wicket - a record for the county against Northamptonshire - to nudge Worcestershire to a challenging total.

In reply, Richard Levi and Ben Curran both lifted Charlie Morris tamely to mid-off in the Powerplay but Cobb and Alex Wakely guided Northants" progress in a stand of 75 in 20 overs. Neither played a shot in anger but just made patient progress. But both were ground down by D"Oliveira and Mitchell and the pressure eventually told.

Cobb ran past D"Oliveira and lost his leg stump for 44, while Wakely chipped Mitchell back to the bowler for 46. Adam Rossington then swept at Mitchell"s final ball and was lbw for only 7 and suddenly Northants were struggling with 111 to win in 16 overs.

Keogh and Procter brought the equation to 82 needed from the final 10 before Procter pulled Tongue for a flat six backward of square. But Keogh miscued a pull to midwicket and Holland edged a very wide ball to be caught behind. it left too much for Procter to do and the tail didn"t give him the chance.

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