Tim Groenewald took control of North Devon’s run chase at Sandford to earn his new team-mates a three-wicket win that could prove crucial in the Premier Division survival scrap.

Tim Groenewald finished unbeaten on 106 and took two wickets for North Devon against Sandford. Picture: Ytfc23Tim Groenewald finished unbeaten on 106 and took two wickets for North Devon against Sandford. Picture: Ytfc23

The Somerset all-rounder, registered by North Devon in the days before the game, made an unbeaten 106 as the Instow outfit knocked off 261 to win with 13 balls to spare.

It looked comfortable enough by the end, although the reality was a little different. North Devon were 64 for four when Groenewald went in, having lost Ben Howe and A J Isherwood in the space of five balls, and deteriorated to 122 for six before Groenewald found someone to stay with him.

North Devon are still bottom of the table, but defeats for Sandford, Torquay and Bovey Tracey above them mean only nine points now separate all the team in jeopardy.

Harrison Jones earlier hit a century for Sandford in their 50-over total of 260 for seven.

Jones, 13 fours and 130 balls, put on 109 for the second wicket with former North Devon batter Neil Bettis (58).

There was another stand of 50 between Jones and Sandy Allen (24) before the overs ran out.

Groenewald (2-43) and Howe (2-16) were the only North Devon bowlers with more than one wicket.

Sandford seamers Jamie Palmer (2-52) and Chris Simpson (2-39) posed problems for North Devon until Groenewald and Jack Moore (31) put on 47 for the fifth wicket.

There was another stumble as Moore went and was followed by Josh King, leaving Groenewald wondering whether the lower order could provide the support.

Robert Ayre proved the man of the moment in a stand worth 49 for the seventh wicket. When Ayre went Jack Popham stoppered-up one end for 27 not out while Groenewald went from 50 to 106 not out at the other.

Winning skipper Tom Popham said it would be wrong to give all the credit for an important win to one player.

"Tim was brilliant with the lads as well as showing his class with bat and ball," said Popham.

"But we can't forget valuable contributions from the boys, particularly Jack Moore and Jack Popham, who built good partnerships with Tim, and Ben Howe, who picked up some wickets at crucial times.

"There's no doubt some people will give us some stick with the manner of the win, but when a player like Tim becomes available we'd be stupid to turn it down and not use him when possible.

"And as I said, without other players contributing, we would not have won the game."