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Spirit chasing victory in Hallyburton Johnstone Shield grand fInal

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Northern Spirit is looking to put the finishing touches on a red-hot breakthrough season when they host the 2019/20 Hallyburton Johnstone Shield Grand Final at international venue Seddon Park, Hamilton on Saturday 14 March.

Top qualifier Spirit has already defeated Grand Final opponent the Auckland Hearts at the same venue once this season in a nail-biting finish to the regular season - a tight win that not only cemented the hosting rights, but provided a dress rehearsal between the two outstanding one-day sides of the New Zealand summer.

Now, in just under a fortnight's time, Hamilton-based captain Felicity Leydon-Davis will be leading her side back into the arena in their first Grand Final - chasing Spirit's first national trophy of any sort in a season in which they have dropped just one Hallyburton Johnstone Shield game from 10 rounds, against the Canterbury Magicians in November.

Not only is it a shot at a maiden trophy, it's the first time Northern Spirit has so much as qualified for NZC's national one-day Final, and that they did with two rounds to spare and whilst marking their 20th anniversary season as a representative team.

Hamilton's relative proximity to Auckland will likely see a healthy contingent of blue-bedecked Hearts supporters travel down State Highway 1 hoping to see the Auckland Hearts lift the historic wooden trophy for the fourth time in six years - with the consistent Aucklanders also having been the beaten Finalists on the other two occasions.

Now the playing field is evidently levelling - after last summer's Grand Final saw the Central Hinds win the trophy for the first time in a decade.

Observed NZC Domestic Cricket Operations Manager Charlie Brewer, "It's been another hard fought season in which we've seen the competition take another leap forward in skill and intensity.

"It will be a special day for Northern Spirit for many reasons, not least that this is the first time they will have competed in a 50-over final - which is exciting for both the team and the Northern Districts region.

"Spirit brings form to the final, the Hearts bring experience and have featured regularly in finals since the competition’s inception.

"In recent times, Seddon Park has also provided a backdrop for some exciting [men's] Domestic cricket finals and, with the talent that both the Hearts and the Spirit can call on, it will be a compelling end to this year’s Hallyburton Johnstone Shield."

The final showdown will be the last Domestic Grand Final of the NZC white-ball season, the Spirit and Hearts aiming to join Wellington Blaze (Dream11 Super Smash - women's T20), the Wellington Firebirds (Dream11 Super Smash - men's T20) and the Auckland Aces (The Ford Trophy - men's one-day) as white-ball champions in 2019/20.

The Central Stags meanwhile currently lead the Plunket Shield (men's first-class championship) which is decided by total points from eight rounds that conclude in the last week of March to end the Domestic summer of cricket.

The 14 March Hallyburton Johnstone Shield Grand Final will be played one day after the scheduled finish of Northern Districts' sixth-round Plunket Shield four-day match at Seddon Park against Canterbury, set for March 10-13; on a different pitch. Kim Cotton and Billy Bowden will umpire the Grand Final with ND's Bill Andersson and Phil Rice appointed as scorers.

HALLYBURTON JOHNSTONE SHIELD GRAND FINAL

Saturday 14 March 2020

Seddon Park, Hamilton

Start time 10.30am

Northern Spirit v Auckland Hearts

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