Worcestershire Rapids took a sizeable step towards the Royal London One-Day Cup knockout stages as centurions Joe Clarke and Callum Ferguson powered them to a 34 run success over Northamptonshire Steelbacks at Blackfinch New Road.

The pair plundered 239 runs in 37 overs for the second wicket as the Rapids amassed 348-5 in their 50 overs.

Then Northamptonshire, despite half centuries from Rob Newton, Adam Rossington and Rob Keogh, were bowled out for 314 in the final over as the Rapids secured a fifth win in seven games and ended the North Group with a 100 per cent home record from the four matches at their headquarters.

Victory moved the Rapids level on points with leaders Warwickshire who they meet in a crunch derby encounter under the Edgbaston floodlights on Thursday. 

Ferguson is having a start to remember for his adopted county as the Australian batsman followed his record-breaking 191 against Leicestershire Foxes with an unbeaten 159.

Worcestershire elected to bat on what was the same wicket used for the highest successful run chase in English one-day cricket against Leicestershire on Tuesday.

England all-rounder Moeen Ali was bowled for a second ball duck by Ben Sanderson.

But the visitors had to wait another 37 overs for their next success as Clarke and Ferguson dominated proceedings with the bat.

It was the County’s highest second wicket partnership in List A cricket, surpassing the 208 by Vikram Solanki and Phil Hughes against Lancashire at Old Trafford in 2012.

England Lions batsman Clarke and then Ferguson in turn went past Worcestershire’s previous best individual List A score versus Northamptonshire – 120 by Graeme Hick at Northampton in 2007.

Clarke reeled off a succession of fine drives and went to his fourth List A century from 105 balls with a hook for four off Rory Kleinveldt. It included one six and eight other boundaries.

Ferguson soon followed him to three figures in four balls less than Clarke with the aid of 10 fours and he celebrated by twice lofting Sanderson for straight sixes.

The stand was finally broken when Clarke (122 off 117 balls with one six and 12 fours) holed out to deep mid wicket off spinner Graeme White and in the same over he accounted for Ross Whiteley lbw for a duck.

But Ferguson continued to score freely and was given excellent late order support by Ben Cox (39) and Brett D’Oliveira (22).

The 33-year-old left the field to his second standing ovation in five days after plundering three sixes and 13 fours from 136 balls.

Northamptonshire List A debutant Ricardo Vasconcelos (20) clipped Worcestershire skipper Joe Leach to mid wicket with 34 on the board.

Newton and Ben Duckett scored freely in a second wicket stand of 79 in 12 overs with the former pulling Pat Brown over mid wicket for six to reach his half century from 45 balls.

But Moeen made a crucial breakthrough when Duckett (37) went for a reverse sweep and top edged a catch to keeper Cox.

Then Newton, after making a run a ball 61 with two sixes and six fours, aimed a pull at Brown and also perished at mid wicket.

Skipper Alex Wakely (40) and Rossington (63) kept the Steelbacks hopes alive when adding 95 in 12 overs

But three quickfire wickets swung the game decisively in the Rapids favour.

Ed Barnard bowled Wakely and had Rory Kleinveldt (9) caught off a skier at point while in between Rossington miscued D’Oliveira into the hands of Leach running back from cover.

Saif Zaib (10) and Graeme White (11) perished as the run rate rocketed and in the final over Keogh (51) and Nathan Buck (10) holed out on the boundary off Charlie Morris.

Worcestershire century-maker Joe Clarke said: “A great performance from the team. Northants are a very strong white ball side and they have got some dangerous players.

“I’ve got two List A hundreds for Worcestershire now and I would say that was probably my better one. When you are batting with Fergie (Callum Ferguson) at the other end, he makes it easy.

“We have enjoyed batting together over the last couple of games here and that partnership today (239) proved to be a crucial one and it was a special knock from him.

“He has got a calm head and has played a lot of one-day cricket and he brings that calmness to the batting side.

“He has got such talent and from ball one against Leicestershire he was creaming it out of the middle of the bat and to get a 192 and a 159 not out in his first two home games is an incredible achievement.

“I’ve had my low scores as well in this competition and two 60s and it was nice to go on and get a hundred. As a batter, you don’t feel good about getting 60s.”

Northants Head Coach David Ripley said: “I think at stages we threatened. It’s a lot of runs to find and you can’t afford to have a bad five or six overs but that is what cost us.

“We were ahead of them at the half-way stage after the 25 over mark but in their innings their two guys (Clarke and Ferguson) then went up a gear and we didn’t respond well to that.

“I thought we leaked 25 runs too many in that period.

“In reply we were reasonably well placed and all the top five scored more than a run a ball but Callum Ferguson’s run a ball 160, that unfortunately is where we came in short (in no-one going onto make a big score).

“But I was more enthused about this performance than some others.”