A collapse of the North Devon order saw them defeated by 100 runs on opening day

Jack Popham’s seven-wicket haul was the highlight for North Devon in an 100-run defeat at Exmouth.

Sandy Allen and former North Devon all-rounder Callum French both knocked-up half-centuries as Exmouth totalled 203 for nine in 49 overs after a delayed start.

Allen (67) and French (59) batted 29 overs for their second-wicket stand of 114 that Popham broke by bowling his former North Devon team-mate French.

Before Popham started striking it seemed Exmouth’s batters were heading over the horizon.

Five wickets went in 12 balls – three of them in the same over to Popham when he removed Chris Metters, Finlay Marks and Allen after a 149-minute stay.

Bits and pieces from Billy Rudolph and George Greenway got Exmouth past 200.

Popham only played a handful of games for North Devon last year, either due to injuries or his obligations in Bristol with Gloucestershire.

Cracking a collarbone playing football during the winter meant Popham missed the start of Devon’s Unicorns Trophy campaign, but he proved his fitness by demolishing the Exmouth order.

Popham’s analysis of seven for 44 from 10 overs included five bowleds.

“Jack was superb in his second spell,” said vice-captain Matt Dart.

“It won’t be the only time this season he runs through a middle order.”

Matt Westaway, Josh King and Somerset’s Craig Overton all bowled tidy, but wicketless spells.

North Devon were 60 for two when Lye trapped Dan Bowser lbw for 35.

Seven North Devon wickets fell for 17 runs added as Exmouth turned the screw and despite some lower-order defiance the result was never in doubt.

There was no sign of the carnage to come as North Devon openers Bowser and Tom Popham (16) scored at four an over early on.

Pyle made the breakthrough when he dispatched Tom Popham then Lye trapped Bowser.

After that it was downhill all the way until King hung in there for 23 after going in at 71 for six. French (2-14) and Billy Rudolph (1-9) tied up the loose ends.

Dart said one defeat was not a disaster.

“It is nothing to worry about as we always tend to start slowly,” said Dart.

“Exmouth bowled a lot straighter than we did and ultimately that was the difference between the sides.

“A par score on a low slow pitch and slow outfield was probably 150. We did very well to keep them to 203 after the second wicket partnership they had.”

North Devon are at home to Heathcoat this Saturday.