Stars cop shock first loss of WBBL season

Rob Forsaith
·2-min read

A Melbourne derby super-over boilover and injuries to Ash Gardner and Sophie Devine have set the stage for a high-stakes final week of the WBBL regular season.

Bottom-placed Melbourne Renegades produced the upset of the season at Showground Stadium, inflicting the Melbourne Stars' first loss of the tournament.

The Renegades finished 7-165 in response to the Stars' 8-165, with Courtney Webb belting an unbeaten 54 for the underdogs.

In their super over, the Renegades scored 16 runs over before spinner Sophie Molineux showed admirable composure, conceding just one boundary as Meg Lanning's side fell four runs short.

Bookmakers regard the Perth Scorchers and the Sydney Sixers, who sit second and fifth on the ladder, as the Stars' biggest threats.

Perth extended their hot run on Sunday, when skipper Devine top-scored with 45 in a total of 8-131 before her side rolled the Sydney Thunder for 97.

But the 34-run win was overshadowed by a back injury that reigning WBBL player of the year Devine suffered while fielding.

"They'll do all the right things with recovery, physio and hopefully get her up towards the back end of the week," Perth batter Chloe Pipar said.

Sixers star Gardner was forced to sit out her side's unsuccessful pursuit of a target of 120 at Drummoyne Oval because of a concussion scare.

The two-time champions finished 9-105, suffering a 14-run loss to Adelaide Strikers.

The Sixers topped the ladder after winning four games during an undefeated start to the season, but are now at risk of missing the finals after four consecutive defeats.

Gardner, who saw a neuropsychologist in 2018 after suffering four concussions in the space of 20 months, left the field in the eighth over of Adelaide's innings after a fielding mishap and was replaced by concussion sub Maddy Darke.

Gardner didn't hit her head on the ground while diving in an attempt to stop a boundary, but the effects of the jarring contact meant she came off the field to be assessed in line with Cricket Australia's concussion protocols.

The on-duty doctor ruled her out of the game.

Gardner, a proud Muruwari woman who was at the forefront of the WBBL's celebration of NAIDOC week, will be assessed in coming days before the Sixers' crunch clash with Brisbane Heat on Tuesday.

"She's not 100 per cent," Sixers allrounder Dane van Niekerk said.

"Ash is a match-winner in her own right and it genuinely hurts the battling line-up when she's out."

Brisbane sit third on a congested ladder after crushing Hobart in Sunday's other match at Drummoyne.

The Hurricanes were skittled for 82 before Heat openers Grace Harris and Georgia Redmayne cruised to a 10-wicket victory in 11.4 overs.