Illawarra Women to play on SCG after securing place in Regional Bash finals

On target: Dharmini Chauhan was economical in her four overs on Saturday night. Picture: Adam McLean.
On target: Dharmini Chauhan was economical in her four overs on Saturday night. Picture: Adam McLean.

The Illawarra Flames women's side is eyeing a Regional Bash crown after they booked their ticket to the SCG on Saturday night.

The Flames were dominant in their 10-wicket victory over Orana at University Oval, with an unbeaten Kayla Burton half-century steering the team home.

Illawarra will play either the ACT or Border Bullets in the semi-final at the SCG on January 21, with the final to be played later that night.

Flames coach Craig Howsen said the lure of playing in Sydney motivated the girls to secure the victory.

"Everyone is stoked to be able to play on the SCG," Howsen said. "It's going to be an unbelievable opportunity for all involved. We're hoping to get the home change room in the Members stand.

"All the girls played really well on Saturday. It was the first time they've all played together, so they were a little bit rusty, but the batting was faultless, there was not a chance given."

While it was Burton and Joanne Kelly who ensured the Flames cruised home in the second innings, it was the Illawarra bowlers who laid the foundation for victory.

Naomi Woods finished with 3-10, while captain Emma Coughlan-Ryan also bowled tight, economical overs to help restrict Orana to 6-104 off their 20 overs.

"We knew once we could get through their top order, we could restrict them," Howsen said. "Naomi was very good, she was bowling nice, tight lines and taking regular wickets.

"We were able to put constant pressure on their batters and once we broke their key partnership, it was regular dominoes falling.

"The message with the bat was to rotate the strike, play the bad ball and stay positive. Kayla's 50 not out was an awesome effort.

"There is no upper limit for how far she can go in this sport. She has boundless enthusiasm and is always trying."

The jubilation for the Illawarra women's team came as the South Coast men saw their hopes of progressing beyond the pool stage evaporate on Sunday.

After beating the Flames on Friday, the Crew fell to eventual pool winners Central West on the final ball of Sunday morning's match. The Wranglers then went on to claim a final-ball victory over Illawarra in their second match of the day.

That result came after the Flames defeated Orana on Sunday morning. Orana bounced back from that loss to beat a drained South Coast side later in the day.

South Coast captain Kerrod White, who produced an impressive 81 off 56 balls in the loss to Orana, said Sunday's defeats were hard to take.

"We ran out of puff," White said. "There are some pretty sore blokes, I'm mentally and physically drained.

"It didn't feel good to lose the way we did. I'm dirty on myself for not getting us over the line. It might have been 100 and a win that I let slip.

"We have to have a chat about how seriously we want to take rep cricket. Hopefully in the long term, we can build something. We have some good kids around who I'd like to be part of this team for years to come."

This story Illawarra Women secure place in Regional Bash finals first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.