TAYLOR Cornall came within three runs of his maiden List A century to lead Worcestershire Rapids to a second win in 48 hours as they overcame Essex Eagles by seven wickets in a Royal London Cup encounter at New Road.
The left hander, in his first season with Worcestershire, followed his 61 in the victory over Northamptonshire with another excellent contribution as the Rapids chased down a 280 target with eight balls to spare.
He shared in a decisive second wicket stand of 158 in 28 overs with Gareth Roderick who hit his maiden List A half century for Worcestershire.
Cornall was eventually lbw to Luc Benkenstein on 97 but Jake Libby and Ed Barnard saw the Rapids, who had lost their opening five games, over the finishing line during an unbroken stand of 57.
Seventeen-year-old Robin Das, and, Luc Benkenstein, aged 20 had also achieved their highest scores in competition with 63 and 55 respectively.
Worcestershire captain, Jake Libby, opted to bat and Ben Gibbon made the first breakthrough when Josh Rymell drove at the left armer and edged to Ed Pollock at first slip.
Essex captain Tom Westley went into the game as his leading run-scorer in the competition with 335 but he went lbw first ball against Dillon Pennington in the next over.
Grant Roelofsen and Feroze Khushi, Essex’s other in-form batters, scored freely in adding 55 in nine overs.
But Tongue came into the attack and was rewarded when Roelofsen on 31 went across his stumps and was caught down keeper Ben Cox down the legside.
There was more joy for Tongue when Khushi (43) went to pull a delivery that came onto him quicker than expected and Cox running back held onto another legside chance.
Worcestershire were firmly in the ascendancy when Nick Browne was run out by Ed Barnard’s direct hit at the non-striker’s after he had turned Dilllon Pennington to point and set off for a single.
Essex were then 132-5 and Luc Benkenstein on three had a let off when he inside edged Tongue on his return to the attack and Cox was unable to hold onto the chance.
It was a rare error by Cox whose two catches today lifted his dismissals in all cricket to the 600 mark.
Tongue’s permitted quota of eight over for his comeback match resulted in encouraging figures of 8-0-41-2.
Benkenstein also survived a sharp chance to Barnard at mid-wicket off Libby and he and Das brought about an Essex recovery during a stand of 83 in 13 overs.
It took a good catch by Pollock running around to deep mid wicket to break the stand after Das aimed a big blow at Barnard.
His List A best 63 off 64 balls contained nine boundaries.
Gibbon struck for the second time as Aron Nijjar picked out Tongue at mid on and then Pennington took a good at mid wicket to dismiss Benkenstein off his own bowling after he attempted a hook.
His 55 was also his best score in List A cricket and came from 59 deliveries with seven boundaries.
It became two wickets in two balls for Pennington as Jamal Richards was bowled after playing an expansive drive before some late blows by Shane Snater lifted the final total to 279-9.
Pollock, recalled in place of the injured Azhar Ali, got the Rapids innings off to a flying start and hit Snater over mid wicket for six.
He made 34 from 25 balls out of 50 before he pushed forward to Jamal Richards and was bowled.
Cornall was joined by Gareth Roderick and the pair batted with great authority and kept the score moving along at the required rate throughout.
Cornall raced to a 59 ball half century with Roderick needed only six more deliveries to reach his maiden List A fifty for the Rapids.
Seamers and spinners alike were not allowed to settle although Cornall had a life on 67 when he was dropped at mid wicket off Toole.
Roderick was full of improvisation, twice reverse sweeping Westley for boundaries, but the same stroke eventually brought about his downfall on 76 from 85 balls.
He picked out Jamal Richards at point off Benkenstein to end a partnership of 158 in 28 overs with Cornall.
All eyes were now on Cornall to see if he could reach three figures but he fell agonisingly short when lbw to Benkenstein and left the field to a standing ovation.
Libby and Barnard ensured there were no late scares for the home side with an unbroken stand of 57.