Report & Reaction: Southern Vipers v South East Stars, RHFT

Read the match report & hear reaction from Southern Vipers' Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy match against South East Stars at Falkland CC

Freya Davies’ impeccable four-for set up Southern Vipers’ no-nonsense seven-wicket bonus point victory over South East Stars to cement their place at the top of the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy table.

Former Stars fast bowler Davies hadn’t taken four in an innings since taking four for 23 in a T20 for England against New Zealand in March 2021, and her previously sized haul in 50-over cricket was a six-for for Sussex Women in 2018.

But she extracted great pace to take four for 14 at Falkland Cricket Club, to restrict Stars to 120 – with hometown hero Ava Lee and Charli Knott both grabbing two wickets a piece.

Knott – on her penultimate appearance – then made sure the chase was straightforward with a classy 57, as holders Vipers avenged their Charlotte Edwards Cup semi-final defeat to Stars in style.

Vipers chose to bowl, and after a rain delay which knocked the overs down to 46 a side, they ruthlessly sliced through the Stars' batting.

Mary Taylor made the initial breakthrough when she found Tash Farrant edging a drive behind to Megan Sturge – who was keeping wicket for the first time due to a finger injury to Rhianna Southby.

But Davies was the bigger danger in dumping the visitors to 22 for four with her swing bamboozling Bryony Smith, Alexa Stonehouse and Kalea Moore.

The ball to bowl Smith and the one which Moore gloved behind were particular snorters in an often unplayable first seven over spell of three for 10.

Alice Davidson-Richards and Bethan Miles recovered things somewhat by putting on 35 but another collapse of 25 for four stymied Stars.

This time it was the Vipers’ spin which took hold as Miles and Aylish Cranstone were undone by the smart spin of Charli Knott, before the Australian turned Elastigirl to incredibly catch Maddie Blinkhorn-Jones in the legside deep.

It was the start of two wickets in an over for Ava Lee – playing on the ground she began playing on at under 11s for Falkland – as the England under 19s spinner had Davidson-Richards caught behind.

Chloe Hill and Ryana Macdonald Gay held things up with a patient 34-run partnership for the ninth wicket before Hill was run out at the non-striker's end and Dani Gregory was Davies’ fourth victim and Sturge’s third.

The reply was emphatic from Vipers. Where Stars had only scored six boundaries in their entire innings, Vipers, led by Knott, had equalled that inside 14 overs.

Stars were also not helped by an apparent hamstring injury suffered by Farrant in the first over, which forced her to leave the field.

Knott and Ella McCaughan put on 46 for the first wicket inside eight overs before the latter was outfoxed by a big turning offie from Moore.

Georgia Adams, after a 43-run alliance with Knott, and Emily Windsor fell but Knott was graceful in dispatching width to reach a 56-ball fifty – her third half-century and fifth score over 40 for the Vipers.

It was only right that Knott would cut the winning runs as Vipers romped to the target in 23 overs.

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