New South Wales set up finals date with Victoria
New South Wales Breakers will aim for back-to-back National Women's Cricket League titles after they sealed second place with a double success against South Australia at the weekend. The Breakers earned two bonus-point victories in Adelaide to set up an appointment with Victoria Spirit in the best-of-three finals series at Glen Waverley from January 26.
Queensland Fire entered the last weekend of preliminary matches in second spot, but their 57-run loss to Victoria in Melbourne on Saturday dropped them to third and despite an 80-run thrashing of Spirit on Sunday, they could not hold off the charge of New South Wales. Cathryn Fitzpatrick's return of 3 for 23 was crucial in the first match and she picked up another two victims on Sunday to equal the haul of fellow Australia bowler Kirsten Pike, who performed strongly for Queensland.
Half-centuries to Alex and Kate Blackwell set up the Breakers' opening win and their 101-run partnership pushed the total towards 9 for 234. South Australia fell for 184 and they managed only 181 the next day as Charlotte Anneveld picked up 3 for 25. Lisa Sthalekar made sure of her side's progress into the final with her unbeaten 92 securing the eight-wicket success.
Victoria, who finished three points ahead, and New South Wales will contest the finals series for the seventh time in the 11-year history of the league and the Breakers hold a 4-2 advantage. They defeated Queensland over three matches last year to avenge the loss to Victoria in 2004-05.
Queensland's Melissa Bulow finished the series as the leading run-scorer with 336 at 42.00, ahead of South Australia's Kris Britt, who collected 279 at 55.80. Clea Smith, from Victoria, was the most successful bowler with 15 wickets at 14.53 while Pike finished with 14 victims at the impressive average of 11.85.