Northants off the mark at last
Northamptonshire celebrated their first win of this season's Friends Life t20 after coasting to a nine-wicket victory over the Welsh Dragons at the SWALEC Stadium.
The Steelbacks, bottom of the Midlands/Wales/West Group, dominated with ball and bat against a disappointing Dragons side who now have it all to do to qualify for the knockout stages.
It was Northamptonshire's slow bowlers who laid the foundations for victory. Con de Lange and James Middlebrook returned respective figures of 3-15 and 3-16 to limit the hosts to 110 for nine.
That target always looked likely to be within reach for Northants and skipper Alex Wakely struck a classy 54 not out to see his side home in 13.1 overs.
After being put into bat, the Dragons struggled from the outset on a slow track.
Marcus North was the first to perish, clean bowled for one giving himself room trying to drive David Willey.
With only 17 runs coming off the first four overs, skipper Jim Allenby tried to break free of the shackles with successive boundaries off Willey, but the respite was shortlived.
Allenby was bowled by Lee Daggett for 20 and Australian opener Shaun Marsh then holed out to long-on off de Lange.
The home side were in desperate need of a partnership, but their big-name top order failed to deliver.
Martin van Jaarsveld pulled a long hop from de Lange straight down the throat of Kyle Coetzer at deep midwicket, which prompted a middle-order collapse that saw the hosts lose three wickets for just one run.
Mark Wallace was undone by a beauty from Middlebrook, Chris Cooke inexplicably danced down the track to the next ball and was bowled, while James Harris also failed to score before being trapped leg before by the impressive de Lange.
That left the Dragons tottering on 70 for seven and in danger of falling short of their lowest score in the competition - 94 for nine against Essex in 2010.
That looked even more possible when Middlebrook claimed his third wicket by having Robert Croft stumped by David Murphy, but Stewart Walters, who contributed an unbeaten 34, and Dean Cosker put on 33 for the ninth wicket to take the home side into three figures.
Needing quick wickets, the home bowlers, like their batsmen, failed to fire.
Harris went for 19 in his first over, with the hard-hitting Willey finding the boundary at will.
Willey went for a 17-ball 24, going for one shot too many and being caught by Marsh off Allenby, but the Steelbacks were well on their way.
Wakely duly picked up the baton with a brilliant innings. He took a particular liking to Croft, reverse-sweeping the veteran off-spinner with consummate ease.
His half-century came up off just 37 balls and contained seven fours. Coetzer provided able support and Northants reached their target with 6.5 overs to spare.
Coetzer finished the match in style with a six over midwicket off Cosker.