WESTERN Storm banished all memories of their defeat in last season’s final by the same opposition when they raced to a seven-wicket win over Southern Vipers in this year’s Kia Super League title decider.

An explosive innings from Rachel Priest set up an easy victory over the Vipers in front of a 3,500 crowd at Hove.
Priest became the tournament’s leading run scorer with 72 off 36 balls as Storm comfortably reached a target of 146 with 12 balls to spare.

Once Kiwi Priest went it was left to Steffanie Taylor and Somerset’s Sophie Luff to finish the job.

Heather Knight, the Western Storm captain, said: ‘Rachel Priest has been outstanding in the second half of the tournament and it was a brilliant innings which helped set us up.

‘I was really pleased for Sophie Luff as well, she has become something of a finisher for us and had a really good tournament.

‘It feels great to have won after losing the final last year. We did it the hard way to be honest, we have had quite an inconsistent tournament but our perform- ances today were brilliant.

‘I am chuffed for the girls, they have been superb throughout and I’m delighted to be able to lift that trophy.’

Priest unleashed some powerful shots around the wicket with ten fours and three sixes, including a brutal assault on Linsey Smith in the final over of the powerplay.

Priest hit four boundaries and a six in an over that cost 25 runs.

The Kiwi overtook Vipers’ Suzie Bates as leading run-scorer when she reached 71 and although she was well caught on the mid- wicket boundary by Danni Wyatt in the tenth over, Storm only needed 52.

Taylor, ‘Player of the Match’ in the morning semi-final win over Surrey Stars, and Luff had little trouble in knocking off the runs. They shared an unbroken stand of 57 with Taylor clearing the long-on rope to win the game with a six.

Vipers appeared to have set a challenging total on a good pitch when they posted 145 for five after they were put in.
Openers Suzie Bates and Hayley Matthews (31) put on 47 in eight overs.

Bates came down the pitch to hit Devon’s Jodie Dibble for a straight six and had moved ominously to 21 when Taylor trapped her leg before working across the line.

Georgia Adams went cheaply but Vipers pushed on through England all-rounder Wyatt and Mignon du Preez, who added 37 in five overs.

Wyatt (21) was superbly caught by Georgia Hennessy running in from long on and Dibble held a good catch at mid-off in the 18th over to end du Preez’ run-a-ball 31.

Charlotte Edwards, who later announced her retirement from professional cricket, rolled back the years at the end with a cameo of 20 from eight balls,

including boundaries off the last three balls. Said Ed- wards: ‘Full credit to the Western Storm, they played brilliantly and it was a fan- tastic innings by Rachel Priest for them.

‘I think I would like to play some county cricket but in terms of this competi- tion and playing overseas this is it, my time is done and I want to pursue other things such as coaching and perhaps some media work.

‘I am happy and content with what I have achieved in my career, I have loved every minute of it.’

Storm put a top-order collapse behind them to beat Surrey Stars by three wickets in the morning semi-final.

After restricting Surrey to 100 for 7, Somerset’s Anya Shrubsole taking three for 22, Storm lost four top-order wickets for five runs in ten balls as their run chase got off to a terrible start.

But from the wreckage of 17 for 4 in the fourth over, they were led to victory by West Indies’ all-rounder Stefanie Taylor, who made an unbeaten 37 to steer her side home with seven balls to spare.

This article first appeared in the Independent. To get the latest articles when they appear, buy the print edition every Sunday or subscribe to our online edition HERE.