Sport Elyse Villani guides Tasmania to first WNCL crown

Elyse Villani guides Tasmania to first WNCL crown

Century-makers Elyse Villani and Emma Manix-Geeves have steered Tasmania to a WNCL triumph. Photo: AAP
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Tasmania has won its maiden WNCL title, with Elyse Villani guiding them to a dominant nine-wicket win over South Australia.

Overlooked for Australia’s 50-over World Cup squad in New Zealand, Villani scored an unbeaten 111 in Sunday’s final while Emma Manix-Geeves also hit her maiden century with an unbeaten 104.

It came as the pair turned the Blundstone Arena decider on its head, coming to the wicket 1-40 in pursuit of 8-242 before reaching the target with 14 balls to spare.

Perennial battlers in their first 10 years, the Tigers had only finished outside of the bottom two twice before last year.

But with a squad that included Villani, Molly Strano, Sarah Coyte, Naomi Stalenberg and Rachel Priest, they became the dominant team of this summer’s competition.

The final loomed as their biggest challenge, with South Australia in control at 2-208 in the 45th over after it won the toss and batted first.

But when 17-year-old leg-spinner Amy Smith bowled Josie Dooley for 66 and ended a 113-run stand with Courtney Webb (88), the Tigers were able to claw their way back into the decider.

Strano also took 3-39 in a tight spell late, while Smith finished with 3-33.

Then it was Villani and Manix-Geeves’ time to shine.

The 21-year-old Manix-Geeves drove nicely through the covers, hitting eight boundaries in her 133-ball knock.

Villani was dominant through the offside, cutting and working the ball behind square.

She won the match in that fashion, cutting Brooke Harris to the boundary to spark large celebrations.

The win denied South Australia its second title, after lifting the trophy previously in 2015-16 when it ended New South Wales’ long run of 10 titles.