Melbourne Stars 7 for 108 (Villani 52) beat Sydney Thunder 5 for 96 (Sharma 44*, Garth 3-11) by 12 runs

Former Ireland allrounder Kim Garth produced a record-breaking opening spell of three straight maidens alongside claiming three wickets to inspire Melbourne Stars to victory in a rematch of last season's final against Sydney Thunder.

Stars had laboured to a seemingly underwhelming 7 for 108 - anchored around Elyse Villani's half-century - but Garth immediately made inroads when she had Tahlia Wilson taken at short third and pinned Phoebe Litchfield lbw with consecutive deliveries in her first over.

After another maiden against Smriti Mandhana, Garth had Corinne Hall sharply held at slip by Meg Lanning to leave defending champions Thunder 4 for 12. Five consecutive dots to Anika Learoyd then meant Garth became the first bowler in the WBBL to deliver three maidens in an innings. She had also had a hand in the third wicket, leaping at point to intercept Mandhana's square drive.

Learoyd and Deepti Sharma did their best to rebuild the chase but the asking rate ballooned towards double figures despite the small target.

Garth was brought back for her final over in the 20th of the innings and conceded her first runs when Sharma found the boundary but it was too late for Thunder.

Annabel Sutherland, who claimed Mandhana's wicket, also played her role with 1 for 8 from three overs as did the trio of spinners in Erin Osborne, Linsey Smith and Sophie Day.

Thunder had started well when Issy Wong produced a superb opening spell to remove Sutherland and Lanning inside the powerplay which the Stars finished on just 2 for 18.

Villani and Maia Bouchier prevented further damage but progress as slow with just 47 on the board after 10 overs. Bouchier briefly broke free with three boundaries in three deliveries across the 15th and 16th overs but Villani couldn't find the rope after the ninth over. However, Garth's performance ensured they had enough.