Western Storm opener Georgia Hennessy hit a run-a-ball 62 to lay the foundation for a five-run victory over Sunrisers at Fenner’s in the Charlotte Edwards Cup.
Victory though was bittersweet for Storm who narrowly missed out on qualification due to an inferior run rate despite finishing level on points at the top of their group.
Showing controlled aggression, Hennessy was severe on anything wayward. With Fi Morris initially playing the junior partner role, the pair put on 68 in the first 10 overs. Skipper Sophie Luff chipped in with a quickfire 34 as Storm closed on 147.
In reply, Cordelia Griffith hit five boundaries to keep Sunrisers well ahead of the run rate during the first 10 overs, but Nicole Harvey took three wickets to arrest the momentum and dry up the scoring rate, as the hosts finished six runs short.
Morris was content to let Hennessy play the aggressor during the early overs but took a brace of boundaries in the final over of the powerplay. When the field spread Hennessy drove through extra cover for four before clipping one off her legs to bring up the 50 at the end of the eighth over.
Grace Scrivens made the breakthrough in the eleventh when Morris top-edged behind square for 21, but Hennessy kept up the attack. She clubbed Gaye Gole back down the ground to bring up her half-century off 51 balls and smashed a wide ball from Naomi Dattani through extra cover for another boundary.
Luff made her intentions clear clipping Sonali Patel off her legs behind square and then deftly cutting her for four more before taking two boundaries through extra cover off Gole.
The pair shared a half-century stand before Hennessy holed out to Naomi Dattani who took a well-judged catch at long-on to give Scrivens her second wicket. Luff fell shortly afterwards, bowled by Dattani in the penultimate over.
Despite two further wickets, Danielle Gibson finished the innings in style, scooping over the keeper’s head for four and hitting the last ball for a huge six.
Griffiths and Lissy MacLeod kept Sunrisers well ahead of the run rate initially, taking 47 from the powerplay, 11 ahead of Storm at the same stage.
Griffiths set the pace with a boundary off the first ball, the first of five in a knock of 32 off 25 deliveries. McLeod too located the ropes and despite some energetic fielding from Storm, Sunrisers kept up the scoreboard pressure.
It took a sharp catch off her own bowling by Harvey to break the momentum when MacLeod chipped one back to her on 17.
Griffiths brought up Storm’s 50 in the eighth over, but she gave Harvey her second wicket when she pulled one high over midwicket where Morris took an excellent catch.
Storm built the pressure as the next four overs elicited just 10 runs. With Sunrisers falling behind the required rate, Scrivens drilled Harvey straight to Gibson at extra cover who took an excellent diving catch.
Harvey conceded her first boundary when Dattani drove forcefully through the covers and then drilled another straight down the ground for four more. The next over from Hennessy went for 13 to keep Sunrisers interested, despite the run out of Katherine Speed.
With 50 needed off the last five overs, Dattani kept busy but when two wickets fell in successive overs, 14 required off the final over proved too many.
Western Storm captain Sophie Luff said: “It’s bittersweet. I guess coming into this game knowing that it was a must-win to put ourselves in the position where we could qualify from where we were at the start the season is testament to the group and the girls. Obviously, very disappointed to get over the line today but be it not good enough to get to finals day.
“We lost to these guys in the first game [of the tournament] which really hurt us to be honest and probably didn’t set our campaign off to the best start. But the girls have come back in from a busy tournament in terms of the Hundred and Academy cricket to regroup and every game was a must-win for us. So, to have won two out of those three is pleasing in itself.”