A breakout out performance from player of the match Ruth Johnston was a highlight in the Hurricanes' victory. Photo: @HurricanesBBL - Twitter

Mingon du Preez and Naomi Stalenberg made handy contributions with the bat, but a breakout performance from Ruth Johnston that was a highlight in the Hobart Hurricanes' victory against the ladder leading Melbourne Renegades.

A breakout performance with the bat from Ruth Johnston played a pivotal role in the Hobart Hurricanes’ victory against the ladder leading Melbourne Renegades.

After losing the toss and sent in to bat on a new Mackay wicket that saw a run-fest a couple of days earlier, the Hurricanes’ batting innings couldn’t have got off to a worse start, losing captain Rachel Priest for a second-ball duck off the bowling of opposition captain Sophie Molineux.

Priest’s wicket brought South African Mingon du Preez to the crease, joining opener Ruth Johnston. The Canes struggled to score off the first three overs of the powerplay, before the very next over, Ellie Falconer’s second over, the Hurricanes scored 11 runs, kick-starting their innings.

The pair took 29 runs off the next two overs, finishing the powerplay without losing another wicket, leaving the Hurricanes 1/52 runs after six overs.

Through the middle overs, the pair continued to score runs. Johnston and du Preez put on a 120 run partnership and looked to have put the Canes in a strong position to make a high total.

Courtney Webb broke the partnership in the 15th over, when du Preez (50 runs off 46 balls) was caught skying a ball to Harmanpreet Kaur. Johnston (63 runs off 46 runs) soon followed an over later, leaving the Hurricanes with new batters to close out the innings.

The consistent loss of wickets and the Renegades’ accurate bowling at the death stemmed the flow of runs at the back end of the Hurricanes’ batting innings.

Richa Ghosh (seven) hit a boundary before departing, caught by Jess Duffin on the long-on boundary off the bowling off Kaur. Naomi Stalenberg (21 runs off 12 balls) continued to play the finisher role that she’s been entrusted with this season, the loss of her wicket left the Canes, 5/155 going into the last over.

Sophie Molineux was entrusted with bowling the 20th over, the Hurricanes were unable to score any boundaries but were able to secure six singles. Hobart finished 5/161, the highest total they’ve scored in the tournament this season.

Ruth Johnston received the player of the match for making her maiden WBBL half-century. She was lucky enough to have her family at the venue watching her knock and she said it was an awesome occasion.

“[It] felt really good, especially with my family here it’s incredible you always hope to do well when your family’s watching, especially since I haven’t been in Queensland,” Johnston said speaking to media post-match.

After the innings break, defending a score in the 160s, against an experienced batting line-up with one of the inform players of the competition, Harmanpreet Kaur, it was imperative the Hurricanes came out switched on.

Opening bowling pair Belinda Vakarewa and Tayla Vlaeminck got the ball to swing early during the powerplay, causing the Renegades openers to watch the ball carefully.

Vakarewa almost had the wicket of Jemimah Rodrigues on the fourth ball of the second innings but unfortunately, the catch was dropped.

In the fourth over, after being hit for six, Vlaeminck captured the wicket of Eve Jones (eight runs off eleven balls). The Renegades went through the powerplay ending up with 1/42 after six overs.

The first over after the powerplay Australian representative Nicola Carey snared the wicket of Courtney Webb, bowling her for 14 runs off 11 balls. Molly Strano joined in on the wicket-taking fun in the next over, taking the wicket of young Indian superstar Jemimah Rodrigues (19 runs off 21 balls).

After the mid-point of the Renegades batting innings, Ruth Johnston was able to take the key wicket of Harmanpreet Kaur (nine runs off fifteen balls), six balls later Sophie Molineux followed Kaur back to the pavilion, edging to Rachel Priest, leaving the Renegades 5/69 after 12 overs.

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The loss of Molineux’s wicket started a batting collapse that would see the Renegades eventually being bowled out and falling tremendously short of the required total.

In the six following overs, the Renegades lost 5/40, seeing the back of Josie Dooley (two runs off three deliveries), Carly Leeson who as run out for a diamond duck, Jess Duffin (17 runs of 21 balls), Rhiann O’Donnell (one run off two balls) and Ella Hayward (six runs off seven balls).

Thanks to some lower-order hitting from Ellie Falconer (24 runs off 12 balls), the Renegades were bowled out for 109 runs.

Tayla Vlaeminck (2/23 off four overs, 14 dot balls), Sasha Moloney (Career-best figures: 3/17 off four overs) and Ruth Johnston (2/17 off four overs, 13 dot balls) were standouts with the ball for the Hurricanes.

Johnston said despite the disappointing season, it was good knowing that they can beat the good teams.

“It was awesome, we’ve always known we’ve been able to beat those good teams, we obviously didn’t do it at the right times, it’s a bit of a disappointment [but] it’s good to finish [the season off] well,” Ruth admitted.

In her first season in the WBBL, Johnston has played 12 matches, making 199 runs at an average of 16.38, while striking the ball at 94.31. In a disappointing year, Johnston has been a breakout star for the Hurricanes throughout the season.

“I’ve been given really good opportunities and it’s just the matter of taking them, today I guess I did that,” Johnston said.

The Hurricanes will remain in Mackay for their final match of WBBL|07 against the Sydney Thunder today at the Great Barrier Reef Arena. The match is set to start at 3:40pm AEDT.

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