Anya Shrubsole takes three as Southern Brave defend modest total to move top of table
Welsh Fire bowled out for 108 chasing 123 for first victory of season after Dunkley 49 lifts Brave
Southern Brave 122 for 8 (Dunkley 49, Adams 25*, Matthews 2-26, Hartley 1-12) beat Welsh Fire 108 (Bryce 28, Shrubsole 3-20) by 14 runs
Anya Shrubsole took three wickets as Southern Brave beat bottom-placed Welsh Fire by 14 runs in a rain-impacted match to move top of the Women's Hundred table at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff.
Sophia Dunkley made an impressive 49 before skipper Shrubsole took 3 for 20 as the visitors ripped through a dismal Fire batting line-up who were bowled out for 108 and never looked like chasing down the total after openers Tammy Beaumont and Hayley Matthews were removed.
The Fire initially struggled on a wet outfield, unable to back-up their impressive bowling which featured six wicket takers, as they dropped five catches which proved costly as Brave posted 122 for 8.
Amanda-Jade Wellington, the leading wicket-taker in the competition, moved her tally to eight after picking up 1 for 21 and Lauren Bell and Georgia Adams, who scored a quick-fire unbeaten 25 with the bat, also bowled superbly to take two wickets apiece.
Brave had got off to a quick start with the bat before Fire removed Smriti Mandhana for 13 and Dani Wyatt for 16 to prevent the Southampton-based side from posting a fourth 50-run opening partnership in as many matches.
Alex Hartley, in particular, was excellent in the middle period and finished with 1 for 12 from her 20 balls to prevent Brave's acceleration as key wickets fell at fairly consistent intervals. Fire would have been looking at a much smaller chase if it wasn't for poor fielding that included a couple of simple chances, one of which was knocked over the boundary rope for six by Annabel Sutherland.
Dunkley was put down on 12 before going on to top-score with a composed 49 from 43 and Adams, who was also dropped late on, played well for her 16-ball knock at the back end of the innings.
In reply and with Rachael Haynes out ill, Fire were even more reliant on Matthews and skipper Beaumont, but she was caught off the bowling of Bell for 9 on the ninth ball of the innings and Matthews struggled to get going before being caught at slip for a run-a-ball 20 off the in-form Wellington.
Brave used the drying pitch effectively to continue to pick up consistent wickets throughout. When Shrubsole had Sutherland caught behind for 22 to leave Fire 67 for 5 and requiring 56 more, the result felt inevitable. Shrubsole and Adams tore through the tail and got home comfortably despite a late attack from Sarah Bryce, who made 28 before being run out on the penultimate ball to leave Fire 108 all out.
Fire sit bottom and are still winless from their three matches, whilst Brave took their fourth win from four to leapfrog Birmingham Phoenix at the top before Phoenix play on Tuesday, against Oval Invincibles.
Matt Gilby is an ECB Hundred Rising Reporter