South East Stars 176 for 6 (Franklin 52, Smith 47, Davis 3-12) beat Central Sparks 170 (George 53, Smith 3-23) by six runs
South East Stars have beaten Central Sparks by six runs in a Charlotte Edwards Cup thriller at Canterbury.
Neither side able was to qualify for Finals Day and both were missing key players through injury and England commitments, but it was a compelling contest that fluctuated almost constantly.
After choosing to bowl, the Sparks produced a fielding performance that was a mixture of the brilliant and the ordinary.
Chloe Hill could have been out first ball, but after skying Ellie Anderson she was dropped by Freeborn who, given the cloud cover, was trying to catch a white ball against a white background.
Smith was on 20 when she offered a regulation chance to Erin Burns. The fielder put her down but subsequently atoned with a brilliant diving effort to get rid of Smith as she was poised for her half-century.
Hill was the next to go, caught-and-bowled by Davis for 25 and Charis Pavely then took a brave catch to remove Aylish Cranstone after she'd holed out to Anderson, nearly colliding with Burns in the process.
Kira Chathli went for 11 when she hit Bethan Ellis to Chloe Brewer and Davis concluded a superb spell when she bowled Franklin.
Ryana MacDonald-Gay drove Ellis to Burns for five in the final over, but although the rate dipped it was still the Star's highest score of the competition so far.
The Sparks' chase misfired in the second over when Ami Campbell was sent back by fellow opener Ellis chasing a second run that wasn't really there and she was run out after a smart throw by Hill, but Ellis responded with an enterprising innings, partnered by Davina Perrin.
Perrin struck an elegant 25, only to fall to an inelegant swipe off MacDonald-Gay which was caught at point by Aylish Cranstone.
Danni Gregory swung the momentum back in the Stars' favour, removing Ellis for 29 when she pulled her to Tash Farrant at square leg off the final ball of the ninth. Although Burns hit 16 off the tenth over, Gregory then bowled Brewer for a golden duck. George blocked the hat-trick ball and began scoring so freely that the Sparks seemed to be coasting until Smith brought herself back on at the Pavilion End and immediately claimed the key wicket of Burns for 39.
Smith then bowled Pavely but as long as George was at the crease the Sparks looked slight favourites. They needed 26 from the final three and 17 from the last two, but home hopes soared when Cooper had Anderson lbw for 5.
George declined a single off the last ball of the over, backing herself to get 10 off the final six balls. The first went for two after a misfield. The tension was ramped up when Cooper then dropped George but ran out Baker who was chasing a second.
George drove the third ball to Cooper in almost exactly the same place, but this time the fielder held on to seal an exhilarating win.