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St Matt’s on target at nationals

Captain Emma McLeod made up for a first-round failure with a magnificent unbeaten century to put St Matthew’s Collegiate in a strong position to push for championship honours at the Gillette Venus Cup national secondary schoolgirls championship at Lincoln.

Yesterday morning’s third-round clash with Christchurch Girls’ High School was abandoned because of rain, and St Matt’s coach, Tony Lyford, understands that fixture will now be played this afternoon instead of a final, meaning that the championship will be decided on points at the conclusion of the five rounds.

St Matt’s were one of two teams with a perfect record after the first two T20 games, along with Takapuna Grammar, who have the superior nett run rate, making their clash this morning [depending on results from yesterday afternoon] a potential final.

Vanessa Taylor [52no] and Sally Booth [31] steered St Matt’s to their first-round victory over Wellington Girls’ College, putting on 85 runs for the second wicket after the early loss of U19 international McLeod for one, an effort that pleased Lyford.

“They just did it nicely; they didn’t get flustered and kept up with the run rate and waited, waited, waited, and then about the 14th over, one bowler came in and bowled some rubbish, and Vanessa took an 18 run over, and that’s it,” Lyford said

“I was really impressed with their composure and maturity in that innings.”

The second match against the powerful St Hilda’s Collegiate from Dunedin belonged to McLeod, who hit a masterful 101no in St Matt’s total of 166–5 after being sent into bat.

McLeod’s century came from just 64 balls and featured 18 fours, and Lyford said she made it look easy.

“She’s a special young lady, and because she failed in that first game, you just had that feeling, and she’s not a girl who fails a couple of times in a row.

“It was a chanceless innings, and 80 per cent of the shots were along the ground, and it was beautiful to watch.

“She and Sally Booth batted beautifully together again. Sally was going at about a run ball, and she’s become really proficient at feeding ‘Bessy’ [McLeod] the strike.”

He said the other factor the girls are enjoying is the slick outfields, where they get full value for their shots rather than the lush, slow grounds they usually play on.

St Hilda’s made a bold effort to chase down the big total and needed 15 off the last over, but St Matt’s held their nerve to win by six runs.

Lyford was impressed with the fielding effort on the first day, saying the team took “some screamers”, including a stunning catch to dismiss Wellington GC’s Firebirds contracted player Kate Chandler for 32, in what he described as a game-changing moment.

He also had a special mention for the bowlers on the batter-friendly pitches.

“Ava Register was huge, taking six wickets – three in each game – and ripping the top out of both teams. She’s turning into a lovely bowler; she cuts the ball around, and if there’s any movement, she gets it, and that’s gold,” he said.

“The surprise package has been Sophie Sweeney, who has bowled eight overs and taken some really big wickets. She got thrown the ball in a tough situation, got 14 hit off her first over and then came back and bowled three great ones and has taken some big wickets, and she got Chloe Denness – the St Hilda’s contracted player – LBW.”

St Matt’s were due to play Tauranga Girls’ College yesterday afternoon, weather permitting, and will wrap up the tournament against Takapuna and Christchurch GHS.

BRIEF SCORES

Wellington Girls’ College 98–9 [Kate Chandler 32; Ava Register 3-16, Sophie Sweeney 2–21, Vanessa Taylor 2–6] lost to St Matthew’s 99–3 [Taylor 52no, Sally Booth 31] by seven wickets.

St Matthew’s 166–5 [Emma McLeod 101no, Sally Booth 23] beat St Hilda’s 160–8 [Hannah E Wilson 51, Chloe Deerness 28; Ava Register 3–30, Vanessa Taylor 2–19] by six runs.

Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

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