WORCESTERSHIRE Rapids regained the Vitality Blast North Group top spot as they beat Derbyshire Falcons by 16 runs in a low-scoring, tense affair.

Joe Clarke’s superb 76 held Rapids’ innings together with fellow opener Wayne Parnell (12) the only other player into double figures in a total of 137-8.

But the home bowlers held their nerve to enable Rapids to leapfrog Durham Jets into pole position as Falcons closed on 121-7.

Their fourth successive win either side of a wash-out put them on the brink of a quarter-final spot.

Rapids opted to bat first and their innings was dominated by Clarke.

Falcons produced a disciplined display with Hardus Viljoen (3-25), Wahab Riaz (2-20) and Ravi Rampaul (2-23) impressing.

Clarke turned Wayne Madsen off his legs and through mid-wicket for boundaries in the opening over.

Parnell, promoted with Moeen Ali on England duty, was caught by wicketkeeper Gary Wilson off a skier from Rampaul.

Callum Ferguson made only nine before being trapped lbw by Viljoen.

The next ball accounted for Brett D’Oliveira (0) who played Viljoen to mid-on and was run out by Madsen’s direct hit.

Clarke completed his second half-century of the Blast campaign from 36 deliveries with a flick off his legs for four off Lockie Ferguson.

It contained two sixes and six fours.

The England Lions player survived a difficult chance on 67 against Wahab with Viljoen failing to cling on at long-off.

Ben Cox (8) pulled Wahab to mid-wicket and Ross Whiteley (4) attempted to flick Rampaul over backward point and found Viljoen.

Clarke’s knock ended when he played a ramp shot against Viljoen and Lockie Ferguson held on running back to third man.

The wickets continued to tumble with Ed Barnard (7) bowled by Viljoen’s next delivery and Daryl Mitchell (2) yorked by Wahab.

Rapids needed to make early inroads and paceman Luke Wood trapped Ben Slater (0) lbw in the first over.

Wahab (6) drilled Parnell (1-19) to D’Oliveira at mid-off and then Barnard broke through in successive overs.

Calum MacLeod (11) was stumped and Madsen (2) cut straight to George Rhodes at point with the total on 28-4 in the seventh over.

Billy Godleman and Wilson responded positively with a partnership of 53 in eight overs.

Godleman made a run-a-ball 38 but holed out to Barnard at deep mid-wicket to give Wood (2-24) his second wicket.

Pat Brown (2-21) returned to bowl Wilson for 35. He claimed his 22nd victim of the season in the final over by dismissing Matt Critchley and set a new County record for a campaign, overhauling the 21 by Saeed Ajmal in 2015.

Rapids now visit Leicestershire Foxes on Friday (6.30pm) before hosting Notts Outlaws on Sunday (2.30pm).