North Devon slipped to a 26 run defeat in the Sandhills on Saturday

Bovey Tracey beat North Devon by 26 runs to take over at the top of the Premier Division table.

Bovey are the fourth team to lead the table in as many weeks in what is shaping up to be the tightest title race for years.

Defending champions Torquay gave way to Exeter, who passed the leadership on to North Devon, who then lost it to Bovey Tracey.

Rain delays meant the game at Instow was cut down to 40 overs each and Bovey Tracey skipper Sam Hickinbottom decided to bat first.

Aussie Rob Honeybul hit Bovey’s top score of 75 not out in a total of 204 for six.

Charlie Sheen (13) and Will Christophers, opened up with 22, then Pete Bradley (18) added another 29 with 17-year-old Christophers, who was elevated to the first XI after a second team ton seven days earlier.

A stand of 75 between Christophers (39) and Honeybul took Bovey to 126 for three.

After that it was Honeybul at one end and bits and pieces at the other.

Matt Westaway (0-24) was the meanest of the North Devon bowlers; Stef James (3-54) took the most wickets.

North Devon suffered a nightmare start when opener Dan Bowser was dismissed by Hugo Whitlock (2-20) in the first over.

Max Curtis followed to the same bowler soon after.

North Devon got behind the rate early against Whitlock and Bradley and were kept there by a frugal spell from Toby Codd (2-20).

Tom Ansell made 30 off 54 balls and Kyle Verreynne 57 off 60, but the clock was running down.

Ten overs out, after Sam Thomas removed North Devon captain Barney Huxtable, North Devon shut up shop and meandered to 178 for nine with Ben Mason (20) and James (24) batting out time.

Having had a couple of days to think about the game, Huxtable said North Devon were not good enough, long enough.

“It was a good game of cricket, but, after a day or so to sit back and analyse the result, it was obvious we were slightly below par in all three disciplines,” said Huxtable.

“There were moments where we played fantastic cricket, but there were also times where we did not look as good as we have in the previous rounds.

“In sport, you are always going to have these days and Saturday was just one of them.

“We will be working hard this week and looking ahead to Plymouth away this Saturday now.”