It was a homecoming that was worth celebrating for Northern Spirit as they won the top of the table clash against Central Hinds at Mount Maunganui.

The match was a first v second clash with the SkyCity Hamilton Northern Spirit going into round five six of the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield at Bay Oval in second place having won three of their first four matches to sit just behind the defending champions Central Hinds.

However, Northern Spirit proved they had plenty to offer at the weekend, beating the Hinds by 53 runs (DLS) in round five on Saturday and by eight wickets in round six on Sunday.

Last in this competition for the previous two seasons, the Spirit now have won four on the bounce, with two back-to-back comfortable victories over the defending one-day champions.

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With a batting average in triple figures, Katie Gurrey was the hero this time with her second century of the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield season, unbeaten on 101 at almost run-a-ball pace as Spirit easily chased down a target of 179 with more than 10 overs to spare.

The only doubt hovering at the weekend was whether the arrival of hard-hitter Kate Anderson at the crease late in the piece would rob Gurrey of the chance to ton up.

Anderson hit the winning boundary just two balls after Gurrey found a two to bring up her three figures, having lost captain Felicity Leydon-Davis with just 12 runs required for a perfect weekend.

Northern Spirit's Carolyn Esterhuizen bowls against Central Hinds at Bay Oval. Photo / George Novak
Northern Spirit's Carolyn Esterhuizen bowls against Central Hinds at Bay Oval. Photo / George Novak

The Hinds were left licking their wounds, having lost the competition lead in the process of the double defeat at the hands of their neighbours.

After a scratchy performance with the ball the previous day, Sunday was tough day with the bat after being sent in.

After Jess Watkin (38) was run out in the 16th over, the Hinds lost both Anlo van Deventer and Kerry Tomlinson to Emma Baker in the 19th and never recovered, with No 5 Hannah Rowe forced into a conservative role for her 34 - not a single boundary in her cautious innings.

Rowe was a big wicket for Caroline Esterhuizen at 155/6 and with Mikaela Greig run out just two balls later in the same 35th over, Spirit started rattling through the wickets again to dismiss the Hinds for 178 in just 39.4 overs of another rain-reduced 46-over game.

The required rate was not enough to threaten Northern's power-packed top order. Young keeper-batsman Olivia Lobb was promoted to open with Gurrey in Bezuidenhout's absence on Sunday and the pair put on 97 for the first wicket before spinner Georgia Atkinson broke through.

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Gurrey then shared a 70-run stand with Leydon-Davis (29) for the second wicket that all but sealed the match.

Northern Spirit remain second with 22 points, sitting one point behind Auckland Hearts.

Points: 1: Auckland Hearts 23; 2nd Northern Spirit 22; 3rd Central Hinds 14; 4th Canterbury Magicians 10; 5th Wellington Blaze 9; 6th Otago Sparks 2.

Northern Spirit Shield squad - Rounds five and six v Central Hinds:
Felicity Leydon-Davis (c), Kate Anderson, Emma Baker, Bernadine Bezuidenhout, Carolyn Esterhuizen, Katie Gurrey, Brooke Halliday, Lauren Heaps, Olivia Lobb, Lily Mulivai, Shriya Naidu, Eimear Richardson, Alisha Rout, Charlotte Sarsfield.