RHF Trophy 2024, VP vs. SES 36th match report, 10 July 2024

Southern Vipers 121 for 3 (Knott 57*) beat Southeast Stars 120 (Davies 4-14) with seven wickets

Freya Davies’ flawless four-pointer enabled the Southern Vipers to secure a comfortable seven-wicket, bonus-point victory over the South East Stars, cementing their place at the top of the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy table.

Former Stars fast bowler Davies had not taken four in an innings since his T20 for England against New Zealand in March 2021, when he took 4 for 23, and his last hit of four or more in 50-over cricket was a six-for for Sussex Women in 2018.

But she set a great pace and took 4/14 at the Falkland Cricket Club, restricting the Stars to 120, with local favourite Ava Lee and Charli Knott taking two wickets each.

Knott then made the comeback easy with a superb score of 57 in her penultimate appearance, and the defending champions Vipers avenged their semi-final loss to the Stars in the Charlotte Edwards Cup in style.

The Vipers opted to bowl and, after a rain delay that reduced the number of overs to 46 per side, they mercilessly dismantled the Stars’ batting.

Mary Taylor made the first breakthrough when she found Tash Farrant, who hit a drive to Megan Sturge, who was playing as wicket-keeper for the first time due to a finger injury to Rhianna Southby.

The greater threat, however, came from Davies, who took the visitors to 22-4 with her momentum, stunning Bryony Smith, Alexa Stonehouse and Kalea Moore.

The ball to bowl Smith and the one that Moore pushed behind him were particular highlights in an often unplayable first seven-over relay run of 3 for 10.

Alice Davidson-Richards and Bethan Miles managed to recover somewhat with 35 points, but another collapse of 25 for 4 brought Stars to a halt.

This time it was the Vipers’ spin that prevailed, as Miles and Aylish Cranstone were run out by Knott’s clever offbreaks before the Australian turned to Elastigirl and incredibly caught Maddie Blinkhorn-Jones deep on the leg side.

It was the start of two wickets in an over for Lee – playing on the same ground she had started playing on for Falkland in the Under-11s – when the England Under-19 spinner had Davidson-Richards caught behind her.

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, making Dani Gregory Davies’ fourth victim and Sturges’ third.

The Vipers’ response was clear. While the Stars had only scored six boundaries in their entire innings, the Vipers, led by Knott, managed to do so within 14 overs.

The Stars were not helped by the fact that Farrant apparently sustained a thigh injury in the first over, which forced her to leave the field.

Knott and Ella McCaughan scored 46 for the first wicket in eight overs before the latter was outwitted by a great turning offie from Moore.

Georgia Adams, after a 43-run alliance with Knott, and Emily Windsor fell, but Knott managed to hit the balls elegantly to the width and reached a fifty in 56 balls, her third half-century and her fifth score over 40 for the Vipers.

It was only right that Knott scored the crucial runs as the Vipers stormed to the target in 23 overs.