MATT Thomas clattered his third A Division ton of the season as Hatherleigh closed the gap between them and safety with a 51-run win over bottom side Ipplepen.

Thomas has already taken tons off Budleigh Salterton and Paignton and completed his third in a total of 259 for seven at Moor Lane.

Opening partner Jack Cherrington missed out – he was dismissed in the second over – but Thomas and Chris Jelley more than made amends.

By the time Thomas was bowled for 105 the Hatherleigh score stood at 170 for two in the 38th over.

Jelly was next out for 66, also to Bowden (4-58) and with wickets in hand Hatherleigh thew the bat in the latter stages adding 62 in the final five overs.

Joe Abbott (1-34) was the most economical of the Ipplelen bowlers.

Pens made a decent effort to knock-off the runs, led by their top four.

Openers Abbott (32) and Joe Abbot (32) put on 83, Sam deFriend  made 31 and Tom Cooper a patient 30 as Pens reached 172 for four.

Time wasn’t on Pens’ side though as Thomas (2-18) and Hatherleigh skipper Mark Lake (0-35) had put them behind the asking rate.

Jack Cherrington (4-67) and Tom Strawbridge (2-3) got among the wickets in the final 10 overs as Ipplepen meandered to 208 for nine.

 “It was a win and to 19 points that we needed,” said Hatherleigh captain Lake. “It was a good score on a tired wicket. Hopefully it's the start of a positive run.”

Hatherleigh are at home to Barton this Saturday – still second from bottom with work to do to get out of the relegation places.

Ipplepen face a tough trip to a Lewdown side smarting from a defeat at Chudleigh.