Laura Wright of the Meteors plays the ball onto her stumps during the WT20 Final match between Queensland and the ACT at WACA. Photo: Getty
They fell short of a maiden title, but ACT Meteors captain Kris Britt says making the Twenty20 final has put egg on the face of critics who branded them ''leftovers''.
And Meteors coach Andrew Dawson hopes it will prove a ''watershed moment'' for ACT female cricket to emulate the bursting men's production line, and instil belief they can contend for trophies.
Jemma Barsby of the Fire celebrates after dismissing Rene Farrell of the Meteors. Photo: Getty
A week after upsetting long-time heavyweight NSW in the semis, the Meteors came crashing back to earth with a seven-wicket defeat in Friday's decider in Perth.
Teenage Southern Stars seamer Holly Ferling (2-13 off four overs) and fellow opening bowler Jess Jonassen (1-19 off four overs) put the clamps on early, and ACT never recovered.
Only a patient 33 off 32 balls by No.3 Britt and late-order hitting by Sally Moylan (18 off 14) guided ACT to a meagre 7-107.
Australia all-rounder Rene Farrell gave the Meteors a glimmer of hope when she claimed the early wickets of Beth Mooney (one) and Grace Harris (7) to reduce the Fire to 2-27 in its run chase.
A blistering unbeaten 78 from opener Delissa Kimmince proved the difference. The Meteors had no answer for the right-hander, who smashed 14 fours in a brutal 52-ball knock.
They will head home trophy-less on Saturday, but Britt insisted they had done enough to prove they are not making up the numbers. ''There's a few things flying around saying they're a second XI NSW side or they're leftovers,'' Britt said.
''The 13 girls which travelled to Perth and got us in the final absolutely proved that wrong, they're first-class cricketers and deserved to be in the final.
''We were underdogs in everything we do, we had belief and trust in each other and knew how good we could be.''
Dawson said the young players in particular will learn plenty from being thrust into finals pressure, and give them the drive they can beat the bigger states.
''From our perspective, the girls got some self-belief,'' Dawson said.
''The group will say, 'I'm no longer someone who's missed out on the NSW system' or 'I'm from a small environment like ACT, I'm a skilful, talented cricketer'.
''Once you gain that element of success that you think you are good enough, and it gives you the confidence and drive to work that bit harder.
''The past five years, the player production, especially in the ACT male system, has been outstanding.
''As long as it's well managed, this is hopefully a watershed moment for our female program to go OK, line in the sand, we're no longer the new kids and it's time to have those expectations.
''It's up to everyone involved to make sure we're not just content to be involved at that level.''