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Top two in the country

St Matthew’s celebrate their second placing.  PHOTOS/SUPPLIED

St Matthews Collegiate were outstanding in taking second placing at the national secondary schoolgirls’ cricket championship, writes CHRIS COGDALE.

St Matthew’s second placing in the Gillette Venus Trophy played over the weekend surpassed the school’s third at last year’s tournament and achieved their pre-tournament goal.

It was an excellent result given that St Matt’s were the only team at the tournament in Palmerston North without a first-class player and they came up against much larger schools, many of which play in regular major association competitions.

Coach Gene Bartlett said it was a collective effort.

St Matt’s MVP Jessie Hollard hitting a six against Takapuna Grammar.

“We had a strong leadership group of Ocean [Bartlett] and Jessie Hollard, and they just utilised all our strengths so well throughout the entire tournament and just got the best out of everyone,” he said,

“We had four Year 9 girls in our team, and just their youth and energy came through. Mostly, they were just used in fielding, but they brought so much to the team.”

St Matt’s won four of their five round-robin games, only losing their second-round match on an artificial pitch against Christchurch Girls’ High School, who also beat them in the final.

The Masterton college started the three-day T20 tournament on Friday morning with a six-wicket win over Tauranga Girls College.

Good St Matt’s bowling and smart fielding restricted Tauranga to 90-3 off their 20 overs.

Wicketkeeper Jess Hollard starred with bat with 42 [44 balls including five fours] as St Matt’s chased down the target with more than three overs to spare.

Next up, St Matt’s met last year’s second place-getters, the powerful Christchurch Girls’ High School team.

Hollard [23] and Emma McLeod [24] gave St Matt’s a solid start, putting on 47 for the first wicket in eight overs.

Once the openers departed, the remaining batters could only add another 37 runs against some accurate bowling and good fielding, for a total of 84-7 off their 20 overs.

Christchurch Girls’ were clinical in their run chase, bringing up victory in the 18th over for the loss of three wickets.

Accurate bowling was the key to St Matt’s second win of the tournament against Auckland qualifiers Takapuna Grammar School.

Left-arm seam bowler Gracie Donaldson claimed three wickets, including the first two to fall, while McLeod and captain Bartlett chipped in with two wickets each as Takapuna were restricted to 84-9.

McLeod [29] and Bartlett [25] completed good doubles for the match, as St Matt’s cruised to victory in the 16th over.

Hutt Valley High School, St Matt’s fourth opponent, set them their most challenging chase, after posting 108-6.

Hollard led the way with 49 not out [45 balls, four fours and one six] with good support from McLeod 25, and Olivia Clark [21], with the winning runs coming in the 17th over.

A win over St Hilda’s Collegiate [Dunedin] on Sunday would guarantee a place in the final, and they achieved that with an outstanding 39-run victory.

Hollard again batted beautifully for a-run-a-ball 59 [five fours], with good support from McLeod [27] as St Matt’s posted their highest score of 122-4. St Hilda’s struggled against some accurate St Matt’s bowling to finish on 83-8.

That put St Matt’s into the final against Christchurch Girls’, and they failed to fire.

They were skittled for 66, with Kate Hastings taking 6-13. Christchurch Girls lost only wicket as they cruised to victory.

“Putting everything into context, I couldn’t be any prouder of the way our girls performed on and off the field,” Bartlett said.

“The culture of cricket at St Matthews is strong, and we instill in our players the importance of respecting the game as well showing integrity on and off the field.”

BRIEF SCORES

Tauranga Girls College 90-3 [Aimee Unwin 27no] lost to St Matthew’s 91-4 [Jess Hollard 42] by six wickets.

St Matthew’s 84-7 [Hollard 23, Emma McLeod 24; Estella Wallace 2-18] lost to Christchurch Girls’ High School 87-3 [Casey Liddington 20] by seven wickets.

Takapuna Grammar 84-9 [Libby Easterbrook 34no; Gracie Donaldson 3-25, McLeod 2-14, Ocean Bartlett 2-12, Chichi Beck 2-8] lost to St Matthew’s 86-4 [McLeod 29no, Bartlett 25] by six wickets.

Hutt Valley High School 108-6 [Antonia Hamilton 46, Natasha Codyre 30; Olivia Clark 2-16] lost to St Matthew’s 110-4 [Hollard 49no, McLeod 25, Olivia Clark 21] by six wickets.

St Matthew’s 122-4 [Hollard 59, McLeod 27] beat St Hilda’s Collegiate 83-8 [Elizabeth Cohr 2-8, Bartlett 2-16] by 39 runs.

FINAL

St Matthew’s 66 [Bartlett 30; Kate Hastings 6-13] lost to Christchurch Girls High School 68-1 [Liddington 32, Joey Hull 27no] by nine wickets

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