HOLDERS Worcestershire Rapids will head to Hove next Friday for the Vitality Blast quarter-finals against Sussex Sharks in a repeat of last year’s final (7pm).

Rapids went down by seven wickets to Northamptonshire Steelbacks in their final T20 North Group match at Wantage Road tonight.

The County finished fourth despite close rivals Notts Outlaws being beaten by Durham at Trent Bridge and will visit Sharks who topped the South Group.

Rapids ended with six wins, five defeats and three wash-outs from their 14 group fixtures and a total of 15 points, one less than Outlaws and Derbyshire Falcons.

Sizeable contributions from Riki Wessels, skipper Moeen Ali and Ben Cox enabled Rapids to post 188-5 in Northampton.

But the County were unable to contain a six blitz by Adam Rossington, home captain Josh Cobb and Dwaine Pretorious which enabled Steelbacks to win with seven balls to spare.

Rapids made one change with club captain Joe Leach replacing the ill Wayne Parnell.

Moeen opted to bat after winning the toss and Hamish Rutherford struck four fours in a quick 18 before he lofted Nathan Buck into the hands of deep mid-wicket.

Moeen joined forces with Wessels and the latter cut Pretorious for four to bring up the half-century off the last ball of the seventh over.

Buck was struck for successive sixes by Moeen via a pull and over long-on in an over costing 17 runs.

The 50 partnership between Moeen and Wessels came up in 36 balls.

Moeen raced to his own half-century off just 28 balls with four sixes and four fours out of 87-1 in 9.3 overs.

But on 51 the England all-rounder departed in the same area of the outfield as Rutherford off Pretorious after putting on 61 in eight overs with Wessels.

The Worcestershire 100 came up in 11.1 overs.

Wessels moved on to 45 before dragging a ball from Blessing Muzarabani outside the off stump deep onto the leg side where Tom Sole held onto his second catch of the innings.

Ross Whiteley (2) swung across the line against spinner Rob Keogh and was bowled then Tom Fell (7) carved the same bowler to deep cover.

But Cox (44 not out) and Ed Barnard (15) added an invaluable 35 from the final 3.2 overs.

Cox faced only 27 balls and pulled Muzarabani for six and also hit five other boundaries as Worcestershire closed on 188-5.

Steelbacks made a positive start to their reply and reached 59-0 from five overs.

But Moeen’s first delivery accounted for Richard Levi (16) who gave the spinner the charge and was stumped by Cox.

Rossington completed a 25-ball half-century but on 54 he pulled Barnard onto the leg side and Wessels took a fine running and tumbling catch at 78-2 in the ninth over.

A tight two-over spell from Barnard and Daryl Mitchell conceded just three runs and Steelbacks needed 108 from the final 10 overs.

Cobb responded by striking four sixes in an over from Barnard on his way to a 25-ball 50.

He eventually fell to a fine head-high catch by Mitchell off Pat Brown after striking 62 with the total on 173-3 in the 17th over.

Pretorious completed his half-century from 36 balls, the third of the innings, before Steelbacks crossed the finishing line.