Vipers make final; Diamonds, Sparks to clash in RHF Trophy play-off
From L-R: Georgia Elwiss of Vipers, Kathryn Bryce of Lightning, Sophie Luff of Storm, Hannah Jones of Thunder. © Getty Images
Georgia Elwiss’ unbeaten 84 led defending champions Southern Vipers to the final of Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy with a five-wicket win over Northern Diamonds on Saturday (September 18), while Bryce sisters’ heroics denied Central Sparks a direct entry to the final. A run-fest in Bristol saw Western Storm captain Sophie Luff register a career-best 157, which handed Sunrisers their seventh consecutive loss of the tournament, and Thunder ended their campaign with a 55 runs victory over South East Stars.
At the Rose Bowl in Southampton, the Diamonds could not get a great start with a bat after choosing to bat first as Rachel Hopkins was dismissed by Tara Norris. Leah Dobson (49) and the half-centurion from the previous match, Bess Heath (71) kept Diamond’s going in the middle overs. Linsey Smith added quick 37 runs to take the visitors beyond 250.
In reply, captain Georgia Adams and Maia Bouchier (40) added 67 runs for the second wicket. After Bouchier was sent back to the pavilion by Phoebe Graham, Elwiss joined Adams in the middle to take Vipers beyond 150 runs in the 30th over. The pair put the partnership of 89 runs to virtually end Diamonds’ challenge. Vipers needed 10 runs from the final two overs, and Elwiss along with Paige Scholfield hit three boundaries to seal the match.
Playing on their home turf in Loughborough, Lightning’s Bryce sisters blasted Central Sparks with a partnership of 207 runs. Kathryn put up a batting masterclass as she scored 162 runs off 156 balls, which included 21 fours and two sixes. She was brilliantly supported by Sarah, who unfortunately missed her well-deserved century by 10 runs when she was dismissed by Georgia Davis. Sonia Odedra stuck with her captain to see Lightning score 320 for six in the first innings.
Central Sparks found the best possible start to the chase as their openers Marie Kelly and Eve Jones put a partnership of 119 runs. Yvonne Graves broke the partnership in the 24th over as Abigail Freeborn whipped the bails off to send Kelly back on 62. Later Jones was caught behind by Freeborn as she became the first victim of Kirstie Gordon who took two wickets to end the Sparks resistance. Odedra was able to dismiss hard-hitting Thea Brookes and Issy Wong before they could do any damage with the bat. Lightning won by 24 runs to deny Spark a direct entry to the final of the RHF Trophy.
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Elsewhere in Bristol, Luff hit her career-best century to lead her side to four for 313 against hapless Sunrisers, who were searching for their first victory of the competition. Luff’s unbeaten 157 came off just 142 balls which included 22 fours. She was supported by Alex Griffiths who chipped in with a half-century. In reply, Cordelia Griffith and Grace Scrivens gave Sunrisers a 90-run opening stand, but Storm took regular wickets to deny them any chance of chasing down the total, and Sunrisers were bowled out for 277 in the 45th over.
Over at Beckenham, Thunder won the toss and decided to bat first against the South East Stars. Eleanor Threlkeld, who came at the crease in the 8th over scored an unbeaten 70 runs off 92 balls as wickets were falling around her and led Thunder to 180 runs. In reply, spinners ran through the Stars’ batting line-up as Hannah Jones and captain Alex Hartley combined to take seven wickets. Jones’ five wickets led to a Stars collapse as they were bundled out for 130 and Thunder registered a victory by 55 runs.
Northern Diamonds will face Central Sparks on Wednesday (September 22) in the qualifier which will determine who will face off against Southern Vipers in the final on Saturday (September 24) at Northampton.
Northern Diamonds 256 all out 48.3 overs (Bess Heath 71, Leah Dobson 49, Lauren Bell 2/29) lost to Southern Vipers 260/5 in 48.5 overs (Georgia Elwiss 84*, Georgia Adams 67; Phoebe Graham 3/44) by five wickets
Lightning 320/6 in 50 overs (Kathryn Bryce 162, Sarah Bryce 90; Issy Wong 3/61) beat Central Sparks 296/9 in 50 overs (Marie Kelly 62, Eve Jones 60; Sonia Odedra 2/56) by 24 runs.
Western Storm 313/4 in 50 overs (Sophie Luff 157, Alex Griffiths 55; Mady Villiers 2/39) beat Sunrisers 277 all out in 44.3 overs (Cordelia Griffith 49, Grace Scrivens 46; Georgia Hennessy 2/45) by 36 runs
Thunder 185 all out in 47 overs (Eleanor Threlkeld 70*, Georgia Boyce 19; Danielle Gregory 2/23) beat South East Stars 130 all out in 35 overs (Kalea Moore 35, Chloe Brewer 17; Hannah Jones 5/33) by 55 runs