Otago Sparks 150-7 in 20 overs (Millie Cowan 61, Alice Davidson-Richards 58, Alisha Rout 3-15) lost to Northern Spirit 151-3 in 17.5 overs (Katie Gurrey 79, Bernadine Bezuidenhout 49) by seven wickets at Molyneux Park, Alexandra.
Opener Katie Gurrey's blistering 79 runs from just 51 balls broke the back of the chase for the Northern Spirit as her team romped to a seven wicket win to keep their finals hopes alive. The Sparks seemed set for a massive score themselves but when they lost openers Alice Davidson-Richards (58) and Millie Cowan (61), their lower order failed to kick on and post what could have been a much bigger target.
"I thought they were on track to over two hundred, but credit to our bowlers and our fielding effort - we started a little flat but we stepped up, and were able to put the brakes on," said the Spirit's Katie Gurrey.
Cowan struck 12 fours in her innings, hitting hard through the line against the Spirit seamers and spinners alike, while Davidson-Richards continued her hot form with a blend of subtle laps and reverse sweeps, along with some strong pull shots.
Alisha Rout bowled Cowan in the 11th over, and repeated the trick in her next over to remove the in-form Katey Martin for just three and help turn the momentum around. She finished with 3-15 as the Sparks limped to 150-7 from their 20 overs.
In the second innings Gurrey and Bernadine Bezuidenhout came out flying, adapting to the conditions flawlessly and showing no mercy on the Sparks attack, the pair threating to chase down their total on her own.
"The pitch was a little slow and low today, so I was on the front foot a lot more than usual - once you got used it, it turned out pretty well," said Gurrey.
She eventually went in the 13th over, caught by Polly Inglis at mid off from Eden Carson's bowling for 79 with just 39 more needed for the win.
That was the signal for Bezuidenhout, who'd played the perfect supporting role until then, to put the foot down and help the Spirit reach the target with two overs and a ball to spare, despite losing a couple of quick wickets towards the close.