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South East Stars 165 for 6 (Emma Jones 46*, Boycott 3-22) beat Central Sparks 139 for 6 (Eve Jones 76, Gregory 3-16) by 26 runs
South East Stars racked up their third consecutive 150-plus score in the Charlotte Edwards Trophy, hitting 165 for 6 in a dominant 26-run win over Central Sparks. The win means Stars have qualified directly for Sunday's final, while Sparks are out of contention.
Stars were missing prodigy Alice Capsey through injury, but her replacement 19-year-old Chloe Brewer - playing her first regional match of the season - pummelled 41 from 33 balls. Emma Jones - bumped up the order to No. 6 - then top-scored with an unbeaten 46 off 27 balls, as Clare Boycott's 3 for 22 proved in vain.
Eve Jones led from the front in Sparks' run-chase with 76 from 68 balls, but by the time she was stumped in the 19th over the result was a formality.
Stars had been 26 for 2 after 4 overs, following a dream debut from right-arm seamer Grace Potts (2 for 23) which saw her remove both openers - Aylish Cranstone was trapped lbw, then five balls later in-form Bryony Smith pulled straight to midwicket.
Legspinner Anisha Patel conceded just 25 runs from her 4 consecutive overs, but Brewer picked off runs from the other end, driving beautifully down the ground as she shared a 64-run partnership with veteran Kirstie White.
Boycott's first over, the 12th, reduced Stars from 90 for 2 to 90 for 4 - White lbw trying the ramp, while Alice Davidson-Richards fell for a golden duck, caught at short third.
Brewer eventually became Boycott's third victim, edging an attempted ramp behind the stumps in the 16th when she looked on course for a half-century. But five balls later Emma Jones showed her intent, sending the ball flying over Boycott's head for the first six of the day. A cameo of 18 off 10 from Kira Chathli, which included a maximum pulled over square leg, helped Stars finish strongly.
In reply, Sparks reached 69 without loss before Danielle Gregory made the key breakthrough in the 10th over - Marie Kelly pulling a full toss to deep square leg.
Izzy Wong was sent out in the pinch-hitting role as Sparks attempted to secure a bonus-point win to keep their Finals Day hopes alive, but she miscued Gregory to long-on in the legspinner's next over.
Emma Jones had been removed from the attack after sending down two head-high no-balls, but Stars' other young bowlers - including debutant Ryana Macdonald-Gay - kept it tight, and Sparks fell well short.
"Losing Capsey and Phoebe [Franklin] was a big blow for us this morning, but Chloe and Ryana were really good for us today," Smith, Stars' captain, said. "They've both come through our academy system, I've coached both of them a lot so that was handy. We've got a few selection headaches for the final, which is good.
"We want to play a really positive brand of cricket - we wanted to bowl first in all of our last three games but it just shows we've got the bowling to defend any score. We want to go out, go from ball one. I'm trying to lead that myself and to see the young ones come in and bat like that - I'm really proud of them."
"When you've got that score on the board, you know they're going to come hard. But we knew we had the attack to defend it - there were a few little blips in there, but everyone kept calm."