CENTRAL Sparks defeated Southern Vipers by five wickets in the duel of already-qualified teams in the Charlotte Edwards Cup at New Road, Worcester.

With both sides already assured a place in Finals Day at Derby on June 22, Sparks showed their bowling strength in depth as they rested Hannah Baker and Emily Arlott but still bowled the visitors out for just 98 in 17.5 overs.

Grace Potts, Katie George, Bethan Ellis and Ria Fackrell took two wickets apiece as no Vipers batter reached 20, Rhianna Southby top-scoring with 19 from number eight.

Sparks then eased to 99 for five with 31 balls to spare as Davina Perrin launched their reply with an assertive 26 from 17 balls and Amy Jones saw them to the threshold of victory 26 from 29.

Put in, Vipers started positively as Maia Bouchier pulled Potts for six as the openers added 19 from 16 balls but from the moment that Danni Wyatt skied a drive at Potts the innings lurched downward.

Bouchier’s blow proved the only six of the innings and only six fours were added to it as Sparks’ accurate and disciplined attack struck regularly.

Charli Knott charged and missed at George and Bouchier chipped a return catch to Charis Pavely before Georgia Adams fell in slapstick fashion when Freya Kemp embarked on a leg-bye that didn’t exist and both batters ended up at the same end.

Kemp soon joined her captain in the pavilion when she lifted Ellis to long off. Nicely flighted deliveries from Fackrell then teased Charlie Dean and Georgia Elwiss into sending up catches.

Southby lashed a couple of leg-side fours but when she sought another but instead lifted George to deep square leg, the innings was over at fewer than 100.

Ami Campbell launched the Sparks reply with three fours in the first ten balls and though she then lifted Freya Davies to mid-off, the opener’s small but feisty contribution had made inroads into the small target.

Abi Freeborn was run out, going for a second, by Lauren Bell’s throw but Perrin quickly made further inroads.

She stuck three fours and lifted Dean over long off for six but went back to the next ball which struck off stump George fell lbw, slog-sweeping at Linsey Smith and Smith bowled skilfully to concede just 13 runs from her four overs, but Vipers’ faltering batters had given their bowlers too much to do.

Jones struck Adams gloriously into the Basil D’Oliveira Stand and though the England batter then holed out to long on, Courtney Webb (21 not out, 16) saw her side comfortably over the line.