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Blaze qualify for BK Super Smash final thanks to Spirit win, Knights still top

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Wellington Blaze have qualified for the Burger King Super Smash final, thanks to the Northern Spirit's win away over the Canterbury Magicians at Hagley Oval this afternoon.

The Magicians can still quality by beating the Central Hinds on Sunday at Hagley, if the Auckland Hearts trip up against the Otago Sparks in Dunedin the same day.

In the second game of today's double-header, the Knights extended their lead at the top of the BK Super Smash table to six points with a tense two wicket win over the Canterbury Kings.

Canterbury Kings 193-5 in 20 overs (Chad Bowes 67, Andrew Ellis 45) lost to the Knights 197-8 in 19.4 overs (Brett Hampton 55, Andrew Ellis 3-35) by two wickets at Hagley Oval.

The Knights extended their lead at the top of the BK Super Smash table with a two wicket win over the Canterbury Kings at Hagley Oval. The home team did everything but win, scoring 193-5 and taking eight wickets, but couldn't stop the Knights executing a finely judged chase.

Returning BLACKCAP Tom Latham had no luck, caught by Daryl Mitchell at point on the first ball of the game. In contrast, his opening partner Chad Bowes formed the backbone of the Kings' innings with 67 from 46 balls, batting through until the 16th over, having set his side up for a huge score.

The Knights called on seven bowlers as they tried to contain the onslaught, including English international Chris Jordan (2-36) and BLACKCAPS Mitchell Santner (1-23) and Neil Wagner, who conceded 0-27 from his two overs.

Bowes was supported by an aggressive Andrew Ellis, who plundered 45 from just 30 balls, Cole McConchie (24 from 14) and Cam Fletcher (22 from 14) as the Kings stormed to an intimidating 193-5.

The Knights struggled to get momentum, losing early wickets until Brett Hampton settled, then launched. He formed a dangerous partnership with Corey Anderson before Ellis claimed Anderson's wicket for 17, then Hampton's for 55 to bring new men to the crease when the pressure was on.

22 were needed from the last two overs, and Flynn, who'd been dropped by Fletcher, hit Ellis for six and was caught two balls later in a juggling catch by Jeremy Benton at a crucial time.

Jordan (17) hit two consecutive balls for four to leave the Knights needing five runs from the last over, before he was was promptly caught by Bowes in the deep.

Scott Kuggeleijn (7-) and Wagner (0-) were left to get the runs and with three from three needed, Kuggeleijn cooly hit Edward Nuttall for six to hand the Knights the win by two wickets.

Canterbury Magicians 165-2 in 20 overs (Frances Mackay 58-, Kate Ebrahim 77-, Carolyn Esterhuizen 2-21) lost to Northern Spirit 167-5 in 19.1 overs (Katie Gurrey 55, Eimear Richardson 43) by five wickets at Hagley Oval, Christchurch.

In a match that went down the wire, the Spirit made the most of a good wicket and fast outfield to chase down the Magicians' formidable 165-2 to end their season on a high. Both sides batted outstandingly, but the Magicians were unable to take the wickets they needed late in the game, going down by five wickets.

After Carolyn Esterhuizen got the dangerous Kirsty Nation for a duck early on, Frankie Mackay picked up where she left off on Sunday, scoring 58 not out after being dropped in the 11th over by Alisha Rout.

She was joined by Kate Ebrahim, who went hard on the attack for an unbeaten 77, including a pair of monstrous sixes from Kate Anderson over square leg, as part of a 129 run partnership with her skipper.

If the Spirit were daunted by the large asking rate, they didn't show it. Katie Gurrey kept her spot at the top of the run scoring charts with 55, part of a 66 run opening stand with Bernadine Bezuidenhout (17).

Frankie Mackay dragged her side back into the match, first getting Bezuidenhout caught at mid-on in the seventh over, then taking a brilliant catch to remove Gurrey at long-on in the 10th.

Anderson came and went quickly and with over eight runs an over still needed, Felicity Leydon-Davis (41-) and Eimear Richardson (43) hit out fearlessly and ran smart singles to tick off the runs required.

There were nervous moments when Mackay (2-25) removed Richardson and Samantha Curtis in successive balls in the 17th, but the Spirit went into the last over needing just three runs. Leydon-Davis stepped inside the line to hit Ebrahim's first ball for four and earn the win by five wickets.

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