CRICKET WBBL STARS HEAT
Brisbane Heat are well placed to defend their WBBL title after securing top spot on the ladder ahead of next weekend's finals series.
Brilliant Beth Mooney's unbeaten half century steered the Heat to an eight-wicket victory over the Melbourne Stars in a rain-reduced, 10-overs-per-side clash at CitiPower Centre in St Kilda.
Mooney enters the finals, to be hosted at Brisbane's Allan Border Field, with eight 50s and 672 runs at 74.67 to her credit for the season.
The win boosted Brisbane past the Adelaide Strikers, who finished with the same win-loss record (10-4) but a marginally inferior net run rate to the Heat (.723 to .601).
The Strikers relinquished No.1 spot after being overwhelmed at Hurstville Oval by the Sydney Sixers, inspired by resurgent Alyssa Healy's whirlwind 84 off 38 balls, which included seven sixes.
Striker Sophie Devine crunched 60 off 38 balls in reply, including four sixes of her own - taking her tally to a competition-best 699 runs at 77.67 - but it wasn't enough.
Despite Healy's heroics, the Sixers (7-7) only managed fifth place, missing the finals for the first time in the competition's history after failing to overcome the absence of superstar skipper Ellyse Perry, who missed the last five matches with a shoulder injury.
It also marked the first time in women's domestic cricket league history that a NSW team won't feature in the finals of a competition, dating back to the start of the Women's National Cricket League in 1996-97, the women's Twenty20 Cup (from 2009-10) or the WBBL (from 2015-16).
In fact, a NSW team had finished first at the end of the regular season in each of the T20 Cup/WBBL seasons until this season.
The Melbourne Renegades will take on the Heat after cementing fourth spot following captain Jess Duffin's third successive half-century which guided them to a clinical 29-run win over Sydney Thunder at CitiPower Centre.
In Sunday's last match, Australian captain Meg Lanning smoked her maiden WBBL ton to launch the Perth Scorchers to a convincing 35-run triumph over the Hobart Hurricanes at Lilac Hill.
Lanning's 101 off just 67 deliveries was pivotal in the Scorchers (8-5) finishing in third spot, setting up a semi-final duel with second-ranked Adelaide, with the winner to lock horns with the victor of the Heat-Renegades semi in Sunday's final.
WHO PLAYS WHO IN THE WBBL FINALS
Saturday, December 6
2-Adelaide Strikers v 3-Perth Scorchers, Allan Border Field, 1110AEDT
1-Brisbane Heat v 4-Melbourne Renegades, Allan Border Field, 1450AEDT
Sunday, December 7
Winner semi-final 1 v semi-final 2, Allan Border Field, 1440AEDT.