THE Northern Diamonds have got their Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy campaign off to a brilliant start, with a comprehensive nine-wicket victory over Central Sparks at Edgbaston quickly followed by a nine-run win over Lightning at Emirates Riverside.

In their game at the Sparks, the visitors comfortably chased down a target of 144 thanks to a 139-run opening partnership between Lauren Winfield and Hollie Armitage.

Katherine Brunt showed her class with the ball too, taking 5-20 in two exceptional spells of bowling.

After winning the toss and choosing to bat, the Sparks failed to maintain any momentum during their innings as the Diamonds' strong attack, featuring four past or present England internationals, proved too good.

Sparks batters Gwen Davies (36) and Amy Jones (26) top scored for the home side, but the powerhouse of Brunt was ultimately too much as the hosts were bowled out in 38.1 overs.

Her fellow new ball bowler Beth Langston also picked up a couple of vital wickets.

The Diamonds chased the target with intent as Winfield and Armitage hit boundaries and kept the scoreboard ticking over to ensure they never gave the Sparks a chance to get back into the game.

Winfield passed her half-century from 62 balls, with Armitage following and reaching her fifty from 67 balls.

The former was caught on the boundary for 72 right near the end, but the Diamonds secured victory in the next over, with Armitage hitting the winning runs and finishing unbeaten on 54.

After the match, Brunt said: "It always feels great to contribute to a win and to the first-ever game for Northern Diamonds.

"It feels really special and feels great to be here as part of such a great win for us.

"We've really looked forward to this tournament and it's amazing to come out on top in our first game.

"A great partnership between Hollie (Armitage) and Lauren (Winfield) topped off the day well for us."

And the Diamonds backed up that opening win in their first home game, as Natalie Sciver scored a century and claimed two wickets in a fine all-round performance to guide them to a much narrower win over Lightning.

Sciver scored the first hundred in the competition from 106 balls, allowing the Diamonds to post a competitive total of 226-9 from their 50 overs, recovering well from 24-4.

Lightning skipper Kathryn Bryce claimed five wickets and scored a half-century, but it was not enough to prevent the visitors from slumping to their second defeat in a row.

Sciver, Jenny Gunn and Linsey Smith notched a couple of wickets apiece and two wins from two now leaves the Diamonds in a strong position in the North Group.

Winfield, whose batting was integral to the victory over the Sparks in their opener, lasted only four balls this time around as Scotland captain Bryce removed her and fellow in-form opener Armitage.

Sterre Kallis and Katherine Brunt both went early too to leave the hosts reeling, before Sciver and Gunn put on 50 to steady the ship.

After Gunn was dismissed, Sciver kept her composure and with a little help from Alex MacDonald (24), she kept going and eventually reached her century, before she was bowled by Bryce for 104.

Lightning began extremely well in their reply, with Bryce and Tammy Beaumont putting on 117 for the opening wicket.

But once Smith dismissed both openers, Lightning struggled to score, and Sciver ramped up the pressure by removing Bethan Ellis and Lucy Higham cheaply, completing a fine all-round display.

The visitors got close, but their final total of 217-7 saw them fall short.

After the game, Sciver said: "I'm pretty happy with my performance.

"It was tough going with the bat. It's not helpful when you're losing wickets at the other end and it became quite clear that I needed to bat deep into the innings.

"I was happy that I was able to show some restraint, at times it was difficult but we were able to get up to a competitive total in the end.

"It's not a bad feeling to be the first Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy centurion and the first for the Northern Diamonds.

"It's a brilliant start for us and hopefully we could be on for the win this year."