Edwards stars as England seal final spot
Chris Edwards' all-round performance helped England Learning Disabilities guarantee their place in the Inas Tri-Nations final with a narrow two-wicket victory over South Africa.
England, who beat the Proteas and Australia in their opening two matches, looked well set to claim their third successive victory after Edwards, who claimed 3-16 off four overs, and fellow seamer James Dickens shared five wickets in the opening six overs.
Despite their middle-order rallying, South Africa were bowled out for just 80 in 24 overs.
England openers Edwards, who top-scored with 20, and Mark O’Brian comfortably put on 37 for the first wicket but, when the pair departed, their side lost six wickets for 42 runs, mainly thanks to 4-13 from L Benting.
However, at 79 for eight needing two for victory, Tom Savage pushed a single before a leg-side wide sealed England’s triumph and their place in Tuesday’s final.
England captain Gavin Randall won his third consecutive toss and his decision to field first justified when South Africa slumped to 16 for five.
Edwards bowled both openers and removed Mzwandile Mhlongo lbw for seven either side of Dickens skittling number three A George and trapping A Kolisi lbw.
Winston Johnson, who top-scored with 17, added 33 with Benting until the latter was run out by O'Brian for five.
James Higgins bowled J Lightburn for 12 in his only over and Callum Rigby and Tayler Young both had J Makololo and Johnson trapped in front.
Lee Stenning ended the innings as he ran out M Siyabulela to give England a narrow run chase.
Edwards and O’Brian set about their target confidently, reaching 37 without loss. However, when the duo were dismissed in consecutive overs by Siyabulela and Benting, England lost wickets at regular intervals, including Dickens.
At 63 for three England looked to be in control but when Stenning and Young were both bowled by Benting and Lee Jay, after finding the vacant third-man boundary, and Randall fell in consecutive balls, South Africa had hope.
Needing 11 to win with three wickets remaining, Jonathan Gale relieved some pressure with a beautifully-timed straight drive for four, only the fifth boundary of the innings, but soon departed, picking out mid-off after mistiming a full toss.
But Savage and Dan Levey safely saw England home inside 31 overs.