Southern District v Sturt
Sunday 23 March
Karen Rolton Oval – 11am start
Head to head over last five seasons
Southern District: 4 wins
Sturt: 5 wins
Match abandoned: 1
Last time they met
Southern District last took on Sturt just two weeks ago in Round 10 at Bice Oval, dominating the Blues and posting a competitive score of 6/224, thanks to Kelly Armstrong (87) and Hannah Sampson (44).
Sturt’s Stacey Oates (3/30) dismissed the top three batters but was unable to restrain the Stingrays much further.
Emma de Broughe compiled a mature 74 from 128 balls in reply, but it was only Oates (10) who was able to join her on double figures.
The Blues let poor communication get the better of them, with five run outs in the middle, seeing them dismissed for just 140.
With both teams knocking out a top two favourite in the semis (Northern Districts and Kensington), it is really anyone’s game to take. A historical day for the Stingrays sees the club secure a place in the First Grade women’s final for the first time.
Sturt last won a premiership when they clinched an exciting two-run win in 2010-11 over Port Adelaide with two of South Australia’s greats, Shelley Nitschke and Karen Rolton, lining up on opposing sides.
Perhaps one of the most interesting additions for Sturt will be the expected return of Australian quick Megan Schutt, who was also in the side last time the Blues won the title. Schutt has played just one game this season since relocating back to Adelaide last year, but prior to this, had not taken the field for Sturt since 2015.
Stacey Oates has been a key player for the Blues this season, and after the semi-final last weekend, has become the competition’s leading wicket-taker with 18 at 12.33, while off-spinner Alex Price has taken nine wickets from just four matches.
Annie O’Neil could be a real weapon for the Blues with the bat, hitting 37 or more four times this season from eight innings, while youngster Emma de Broughe has also found batting form in recent weeks, posting 74 and 38 in the last two games.
Vanuatu captain Selina Solman has been a handy addition to the Stingrays this year, collecting 12 wickets, including an integral five-wicket haul in the semi-final against Kensington.
Kelly Armstrong and Southern District captain Jess O’Reilly, are both in the top five for runs this season, with the skipper surely due for a big knock on Sunday after a lean few weeks.
Making a stunning return to the game after a season off, wicketkeeper/batter Kylie Rattray has the power behind her to make quick-fire runs, having accumulated one of the highest strike-rates in the competition this year of 131.6.
Player to watch – Hannah Sampson (Southern District)
Player/coach Hannah Sampson (nee Perry) has the ability to turn a game on its head, with the former Statewide Super SA Scorpion making a return to cricket this year, and a move to a new club, after an early retirement two years ago.
Sampson has batted just five times this season, including in last weekend’s semi-final, posting scores of 19, 52 not out, 12 not out, 44 and 51, with an average of 59.33.
Taking 3/6 against Northern Districts in Round 8, Sampson also can change the game with the ball and could be a real threat to the Blues.
Danger woman – Megan Schutt (Sturt)
The obvious danger player for this match is Aussie speedster Schutt, whose pace and swing may be unprecedented for some of the less experienced Stingrays batters.
Currently number one on the ICC T20I bowling rankings in the T20 format and number four for ODIs, Schutt’s experience and achievements on the international stage could prove intimidating for some.
Now on leave from Australian duties and not having played a match since the last Commonwealth Bank ODI against New Zealand three weeks ago, Schutt’s body should be fresh and firing for Sunday’s final.
Southern District: O’Reilly (c), Clark, K. Armstrong, Sampson, Andrew, Rattray, H. Armstrong, Solman, Wilson, Petersen, Allen, Kennedy
Sturt: O’Neil, Bartlett (c), Price, Schutt, de Broughe, Peate, Rault, Oates, Tansell, Carver, Earl, Worthley