Women's Super League: Rachel Priest powers Western Storm to victory over Southern Vipers
|Kia Super League final, Hove|
|Southern Vipers 145-5 (20 overs): Matthews 31, Du Preez 31; Taylor 3-28|
|Western Storm 151-3 (18 overs): Priest 72|
|Western Storm win by seven wickets|
Western Storm clinched the Super League title as Rachel Priest’s 72 steered them to a seven-wicket win over last year’s victors Southern Vipers.
Stafanie Taylor took three wickets in seven balls but Hayley Matthews and Mignon du Preez both made 31 as the Vipers posted 145-5.
Priest’s 36-ball innings included 10 fours and three sixes as Storm raced towards their target.
Taylor finished the match in style with a huge six with 12 balls to spare.
There was added tension for Storm as the West Indies captain was forced to bat with a runner after suffering a hamstring injury whilst bowling.
But, under the lights and in front of 3,413 spectators at Hove, it was Taylor who overcame her struggles to avenge their loss to the Vipers in 2016.
Immediately after the match, Southern Vipers and former England captain Charlotte Edwards announced her retirement from professional cricket.
Taylor turns the tide
Current England and Western Storm captain Heather Knight’s decision to bowl first in the final looked to have backfired as player-of-the-tournament Suzie Bates and Hayley Matthews found the boundary with ease during the powerplay.
However, Taylor was brought into the attack in the eighth over and made an instant impact as she had fellow West Indies international Matthews caught and bowled for 31.
Georgia Adams came dancing down the pitch to the first ball of the all-rounder’s next over and was stumped before New Zealand captain Bates was trapped lbw four balls later as the Vipers lost 3-16 in 12 balls.
Edwards gave the innings some much-needed impetus at the end as she signed off her professional career in style with the bat by sending England seamer Anya Shrubsole for three consecutive boundaries to help Vipers up to a respectable total.
Priest gets Storm reply off to a flier
Despite managing just three runs in her first two innings for Storm, Priest announced herself in the competition with a sensational century in York.
After making 11 in the semi-final win over Surrey Stars, the New Zealand opener came into Storm’s second match of the day batting with intent and smashed her 15th ball for a huge six towards the grandstand off spinner Linsey Smith.
Whilst batting had seemed difficult for most players during the day, Priest reached her third half-century in the tournament off just 26 balls having sent Smith’s 10-ball third over for four fours and a six.
A brilliant catch from Danni Wyatt eventually brought an end to the Kiwi’s innings but the 32-year-old had already done all of the damage.
Her dismissal brought Sophie Luff to the crease and the 23-year-old revelled in the pressurised situation, expertly managing Taylor’s use of a runner and finding the boundary ropes with ease.
The Western Storm fourth-wicket pair put on an unbeaten 57-run stand to guide their side to their first Super League title.