HAMISH Rutherford scored a third century in just five innings for Worcestershire as Rapids beat Northamptonshire Steelbacks by 20 runs in the Royal London One-Day Cup North Group.

The New Zealander struck 126 for almost half of Rapids' 254-9 in their 50 overs at Wantage Road.

Rutherford was aided in half-century partnerships by acting skipper Brett D’Oliveira, wicketkeeper Ben Cox and Josh Tongue.

Then Charlie Morris again made early inroads with the ball before D’Oliveira and Daryl Mitchell tied down the batsmen when bowling in tandem.

Ed Barnard and Wayne Parnell worked their way through the rest as Steelbacks were bowled out for 234 in 48.4 overs.

Rapids have won three of their first four games in their bid to make the knockouts for a fourth year on the trot.

But it did not start well when Riki Wessels (1) and Tom Fell (1) both fell to Ben Sanderson before Mitchell (12) ballooned a delivery from Blessing Muzarabani into the mid-on.

From 23-3 D’Oliveira and Rutherford added 84 in 15 overs.

D’Oliveira (28) was undone by a Nathan Buck delivery but Cox aided Rutherford in a partnership of 59 in eight overs before he was lbw to Josh Cobb for 29.

Ross Whiteley (0), Barnard (4) and Parnell (11) then departed cheaply to leave Rapids on 188-8 in the 40th over.

But Rutherford and Tongue combined for a stand of 59 in nine overs, setting a club best for the ninth wicket in List A cricket against Northants.

Rutherford swept Rob Keogh for four to complete his ton from 117 balls out of 199-8 in the 43rd over. It contained one six and 11 other boundaries.

He was finally ninth out off Buck in the penultimate over after lofting a comfortable off-side catch to leave Tongue unbeaten on 25.

The in-form Morris made two quick breakthroughs in reply as Richard Levi (19) and Ben Curran (10) were caught out.

Cobb (44) and Alex Wakely (46) added 75 for the third wicket to take Northants to 116-2 in the 27th over.

But D’Oliveira (1-28) bowled Cobb and Mitchell (2-40) also gave little away with two scalps in his final two overs.

Wakeley offered a comfortable return catch and Adam Rossington was lbw for a duck at 144-5 in the 24th over.

It became 183-6 when Keogh (29) mistimed a pull against Barnard and provided D’Oliveira with a straightforward chance.

Parnell came back and Ian Holland (9) nicked through to Cox.

Buck (16) was lbw to Barnard (2-49) before Parnell (3-45) secured victory with two wickets in two overs.

Cox took a sharp catch to remove Sanderson (8) and Muzarabani (4) drilled the ball to Fell at short cover.

Rapids now tackle their big derby at home to Warwickshire in the cup at Blackfinch New Road on Sunday (11am).