Trent Rockets 102 for 2 (Villani 55*) beat Welsh Fire 100 for 8 (Smith 2-14, Brunt 2-14) by eight wickets
Opener Villani, who took over the Rockets captaincy to allow Nat Sciver to focus fully on her batting and bowling roles, made an unbeaten 55 off 40 balls with eight fours and a six as the East Midlands team overhauled a modest 100 for 8 by Welsh Fire for an eight-wicket win with 18 balls to spare.
Nicola Carey, another Australia international on show, top-scored with 27 off 29 balls for Fire, with Sarah Bryce making 23 off 26 as the Welsh side struggled for fluency on a used pitch.
Rockets were excellent in the field, Villani holding two good catches, Bryony Smith an excellent one and du Preez pulling off a four-saving dive at deep cover. Their bowlers gave little away, five conceding less than a run a ball, and legspinner Alana King, who has been outstanding throughout the tournament, going for just 10 runs in her 20.
Tammy Beaumont opted to bat first and launched the Fire innings with four consecutive fours off Kathryn Bryce but that was as good as it got for her team, who found the boundary only five more times, three coming in the final nine deliveries as Carey and Lauren Filer finally threw off the shackles.
England opener Beaumont horribly miscued a ball from offspinner Smith at the start of the second set, Bryce gaining an element of revenge by demanding and taking the catch at cover. Kathrine Brunt conceded just seven runs in back-to-back sets, Sciver dismissed Aussies Rachael Haynes (bowled) and Sutherland (leg before) in the space of five deliveries and Fire closed the powerplay on 31 for 3.
Opener Bryce – Kathryn’s younger sister and fellow Scotland international – hung around doggedly but it was an anchor role for which only Carey provided any meaningful support, the pair adding 33 off as many balls for the fifth wicket before Bryce was run out by the bowler chasing a single off Georgia Davis.
After a sedate start lifted only by Villani pulling Sutherland for six over the head of deep backward square, Rockets were 25 without loss after 25 balls, behind on the powerplay comparison but up with the required rate.
They soon lost Smith caught at deep midwicket and Sciver, dropped on 2, failed to cash in, caught at short third as she reverse-swept Alex Hartley.
But Villani took responsibility from thereon in, taking three fours in five balls off Carey, surviving a difficult chance to deep backward square on 46 but otherwise looking impressive, with du Preez chipping in with six over midwicket off Hartley before getting the job done.