Jubilation turned to heartbreak for the Palmerston North Girls' High School First XI yesterday as they went from thinking they had won their first national cricket title to being pipped on run rate.
Girls' High topped the table after winning their last match yesterday morning, beating St Kentigern College by 11 runs, but then had the bye in the afternoon at the tournament at Ongley Park.
The home side could not do anything as Havelock North High School destroyed New Plymouth Girls' High School by 136 runs to sneak their run rate past Girls' High's of plus 1.690 to plus 2.167 to win the tournament.
"In terms of with the excitment this morning, the girls had no idea we had an opportunity of even winning the nationals," Girls' High coach Cindy Forsyth said.
"It was just the excitment of how well they were doing in the game. Disappointed but we also knew we did everything we could to win the title."
Forsyth said it was unfortunate as they were unbeaten except for the bowl-off they lost 1-0 to St Hilda's Collegiate School after the scores were tied at 114.
"In round-robin play maybe it would be better if both teams get a point for a draw instead of going into a bowl-off or maybe even a super over."
The team's rained-off match against last-placed New Plymouth could have helped boost their run rate.
This was Girls' High's third appearance at the national finals and second is their best result, after two thirds.
Girls' High only had three weeks to prepare for the competition after they didn't originally qualify but a Northern Districts school pulled out.
"In the long run that's been a benefit. They haven't had time to think about it and worry about what's going to happen. They came in and enjoyed the tournament."
Yesterday against St Kentigern College, Girls' High put in a spirited bowling performance to defend their modest total of 66-5 and win by 11 runs.
The Girls' High bowlers stepped up with not many runs to play with, especially as St Kentigern put on a partnership of 34 for the second wicket.
Sarah Power, who took three wickets in four balls in the 13th over, played a key role but Central Hinds seamer Hannah Rowe only conceded three runs from her four overs and Nikita Hannam six to have the Auckland school out for 55.
"I kept trying to say to them, 'We're the ones with the runs on the board'," Forsyth said.
"In Twenty20 cricket the game can change so quickly, especially in girls' cricket - they can get so anxious and nervous."
Rowe was named the most valuable batter of the tournament, scoring 208 runs, including two half-centuries.
AT A GLANCE
PNGHS 66-5 (Samantha Rowe 19, Hannah Rowe 19; Malaea Tangi 2-14) beat St Kentigern College 55 (Francesca Wilkinson 22, Christina Oscar 18; Sarah Power 3-23, Hannah Rowe 2-3) by 11 runs.
Final standings: 1 Havelock North, 2 PNGHS, 3 St Hilda's, 4 Wellington Girls', 5 St Kentigern, 6 Waikato Diocesan, 7 New Plymouth GHS.
- The Manawatu Standard