Emma McLeod starred with bat and ball for St Matthew’s. PHOTO/FILE
St Matthew’s Collegiate have made the Gillette Venus Trophy Secondary Schoolgirl national finals for the third straight year.
St Matt’s, who were runners-up in the 2020 national finals, confirmed their status as the dominant Central Districts’ schoolgirl team, with two easy victories in the playoffs at Fitzherbert Park, Palmerston North on Wednesday.
First up, they dispatched Napier Girls’ High School by nine wickets.
Consistent bowling and tight fielding restricted Napier to 94-7 off their 20 overs. Offspinner Macy Lyford was the most successful bowler with 3-11 off her four overs, while Chichi Beck conceded only six runs and picked up one wicket off four miserly overs.
Emma McLeod  and Jess Hollard [27no] ensured there would be no jitters chasing the small total, with a 74-run opening partnership. The winning runs were scored in the 14th over for the loss of one wicket.
If that win was easy enough, the triumph over Palmerston North Girls’ High School [PNGHS] in the final was a total demolition.
Batting first, PNGHS could muster only 54 runs, and if it wasn’t for Central Hind Ashtati Kumar, who scored 31, the score would have been a complete embarrassment. McLeod was the chief destroyer taking 4-13 off four overs with her offspinners.
Apart from losing McLeod in the second over, St Matt’s made no race of the chase, with Hollard [13no] and Ocean Bartlett [28no] securing victory off 6.4 overs.
Over the three games in the Gillette Venus Trophy series, against Wairarapa College, Napier, and PNGHS, St Matt’s have lost only three wickets.
It is the fourth consecutive year that a Wairarapa school has qualified for the finals, with Waicol the first to achieve the feat and finishing fifth in 2018. St Matt’s will now aim to go one better than last year’s second placing, which came after a third placing in 2019.
Napier Girls High School 94-7 [Jenna Allison 29; Macy Lyford 3-11] lost to St Matthew’s 96-1 [Emma McLeod 31, Jess Hollard 27no] by nine wickets.
Palmerston North Girls High School 54 [Ashtati Kumar 31; McLeod 4-13] lost to St Matthew’s 56-1 [Ocean Bartlett 28no] by nine wickets.