A fine team performance from the Auckland Hearts was too much for the Northern Spirit at Seddon Park. Arlene Kelly’s 41 not out and 1-22 with the ball was the stand-out for the Hearts. Then ND captain Bernadine Bezuidenhout’s 77* wasn’t enough to get her team home.
The Hearts now sit second on the table, four points behind the Blaze who have played all their games. The Hearts will need to win their match against the Sparks on 13 January with a favourable run rate, and keep an eye on the Magicians over their next two matches to ensure they book a place in the finals.
After a slightly unsteady start, Lauren Down and Maddy Green’s partnership for the second wicket got the Hearts off to a strong beginning.
Unfortunately, Green was caught for 17 in the deep trying to hit Anderson out of the park in the ninth over. Down slammed a six down the ground, but feathered one caught behind in the tenth.
Katie Perkins (29) and Holly Huddleston (15) supported Kelly’s 41 from 21 balls to keep the momentum up through to the finish.
Kelly climbed into the Spirit bowlers from the start, smashing boundaries all around the park including a big six down the ground from Katey Anderson, as the Hearts finished on 148-5.
In reply, Bezuidenhout’s 77* from 64 balls was the backbone of the Spirit’s chase, but she didn’t find the partners she needed to make a serious run at the target.
Bezuidenhout hit seven fours and two sixes in her innings – but some excellent Hearts bowling and fielding forced three run outs, helping keep the pressure on the Spirit.
Kelly, Anna Peterson (1-20) and Roz McNeill (1-20) all helped put the brakes on, and despite Bezuidenhout’s heroics, the Hearts’ total was always just too far out of reach.
The Aces couldn’t follow up with a victory when they got underway at 4:15pm.
Knights all-rounder Daryl Mitchell’s 78 was the backbone of the home team’s innings as they put on 155.
Mitchell McClenaghan (3-23) caused havoc at the top of the innings with a fiery display, removing dangerous Knights openers Anton Devcich LBW for six and and Dean Brownlie caught and bowled for 12.
Donovan Grobbelaar (3-29) picked up where McClenaghan left off, and was on a hat trick after removing Mitchell Santner (12) and Daniel Flynn in successive balls.
As wickets continued to tumble in the lower order, Mitchell’s 78 from just 51 balls proved crucial and his promotion to first drop proved a master stroke as the Knights were able to scramble to 155-9.
In reply, the Aces suffered an early blow as James Vince was run out for one. Glenn Phillips and Sean Solia struggled to make runs after that, as the Knights took the pace off the ball and challenged the Aces to hit over the boundary.
Mitchell Santner wrestled momentum back for the home team by removing Phillips and Mark Chapman in the ninth over.
Captain Craig Cachopa came in and tried to take the innings in hand. He hit three sixes and three fours in his 17-ball 39, before chopping one onto the on-side to Dean Brownlie.
Grobbelaar and Roneel Hira were forced to hit out as they came in, before losing their wickets in successive balls to Scott Kuggeleijn.
Some late Somerville hitting almost provided a twist in the tale, as he slammed four sixes in two overs, but after Kuggeleijn picked up those three wickets in the 17th over the Knights were feeling comfortable. Somerville plundered 17 runs off Mitchell’s final over, but the Aces fell two runs short.
The Hearts and Aces next face the Otago Sparks and Volts in Dunedin on Sunday 13 January.