Brisbane players celebrate their WBBL semi-final win against Sydney Thunder.
Brisbane players celebrate their WBBL semi-final win against Sydney Thunder.

Heat into WBBL final after final ball drama

SYDNEY Thunder needed one massive final over to book their place in a second WBBL final, but 13 proved unlucky as they fell five runs short and Brisbane Heat progressed to its first decider.

Heat controlled the second innings as Thunder chased down the 141 required for victory, but there was a glimmer of hope right to the end for the Sydney side as the result went to the last ball.

Jess Jonassen was tasked with bowling the final over, in which Nicola Carey and Maisy Gibson needed 13 for victory.

And as the Heat spinner sent down the final delivery, Carey almost achieved the impossible.

Needing five runs to win and four to force a super over, Carey got hold of it and sent it high and long to the boundary, but a beautiful catch by Haidee Birkett on the rope ended the Thunder's season and sent the Brisbane team into raptures.

"It was unreal, six off the bat and it's one of those ones where you have to do so much that you're just there all of a sudden, it's in your hand, they either stick of they don't, so really lucky with that," Birkett said.

"For it to be the last ball of the game when they needed a boundary, it's worked out pretty well for us."

The result ended in an absolute thriller after it looked like the Thunder had put themselves in a strong position by restricting Heat to just 140.

Having won the toss, they sent Heat into bat, which seemed smart after Brisbane had trouble establishing a solid partnership set with no one batter really getting going.

A late stand from Laura Harris, with 32 not out off 25 deliveries, helped salvage a respectable score.

It wasn't Harris's cameo or the earlier 33 from Sammy-Jo Johnson that did the damage - it was instead tight, controlled bowling throughout the second innings that really took control of the match.

Rene Farrell of the Thunder is bowled by Brisbane’s Jemma Barsby.
Rene Farrell of the Thunder is bowled by Brisbane’s Jemma Barsby.

Wickets did not drop easily but the Heat's economy put the pressure on Thunder as they struggled to find a way through and keep the run rate under control.

Opener Rachael Haynes was caught for a duck on just the third ball, the worst possible start for Thunder as they looked for their second final appearance in four seasons.

"We just took our time a bit more at the top of our mark and were clear where we wanted to bowl," Birkett said.

"Against Thunder last Saturday we rushed our innings a lot and bowled a lot of wide and inconsistent deliveries and the batters took them down.

"Sammy-Jo getting Rach Haynes early, I think that set us up and calmed the nerves a little bit and then we were able to execute where we wanted to."

Josie Dooley of the Heat is run out by Rachel Haynes of the Thunder.
Josie Dooley of the Heat is run out by Rachel Haynes of the Thunder.

Fellow opener Rachel Priest appeared to have put things back on track as she posted 44 off 33, but her wicket in the ninth over - caught by Birkett off Delissa Kimmince - was the turning point for the Heat.

Stafanie Taylor joined Alex Blackwell in the middle with Thunder at 3-66, but the pair were unable to keep the runs ticking over and by the time Taylor was bowled by Grace Harris in the 16th over, the required run rate had blown out to 11 with the home side at 4-100.

Blackwell's 29 off 28 kept Thunder's hopes alive, but she departed early in the 18th over with her team 24 runs short of the win. Carey's 19 was almost enough to see them home, but it was the Heat's day.

Thunder captain Alex Blackwell was happy with her team's effort in the end.

"Very happy with the effort to keep them to 140," Blackwell said.

"We could have kept them to less, however we'd take that every day.

"We probably could have done better. We took the chase to the last ball.

"it wasn't a train wreck by any means but there were certain periods of the match there where the run chase was probably a bit slow and too eager to hit the big shots rather than making sure we score off every ball."