Hurst’s first VII and U16 teams make national schools netball finals again

February 8, 2018

Last weekend, the first VII and U16A netball teams from Hurst College came through the Regional Schools competition, as runners-up and champions respectively, to win through to the National Schools finals as they did last year.

First up for Hurst’s first team was Wellington College from Berkshire. The first game is often key to building a good momentum, but luckily that proved not to be the case, as the Hurst girls were frustrated with their narrow 7-6 loss to Wellington.  Next up was St Helen & St Katherine’s from Oxfordshire, and the Hurst girls dominated play from the off, despite the dismal weather, and kept the ball out of danger for a 6-3 win.  

Match three was an intense affair against a very well-drilled side from Peter Symonds College in Hampshire. The Hurst girls were up by one goal at half time and knew they had to take their play up a notch, which they did to secure a much needed 12-10 win.

In the next two matches, the girls were full on from the first whistle, as they beat Ousedale School from Buckinghamshire and The Ryde School from Hertfordshire by big margins to increase their goal average. Wycombe Abbey was the last of the pool games and a must win match. The Hurst team settled immediately and capitalised on Wycombe’s errors to secure a semi-final spot.

Playing last year’s national champions, Beaconsfield High, in the semi-final was a daunting prospect but the Hurst team stepped on court with steely determination and responded to everything that was thrown at them. Although they quickly went down by three goals, the girls increased their pace and intensity to claw it back. Down 3-5 at half-time, the adrenalin kicked in as soon as they started the second half, as they went straight to goal. As the Hurst girls relaxed back into their game, errors started to creep in to the opposition’s game, and with two minutes to go, Hurst maintained possession as the clock ticked down. When the final whistle went, the cheers and tears began, for what was a great performance and demonstration of team work. They were through to the final against Sussex neighbours, Worthing College.

Pride and rankings for the national finals was at stake in this regional final, so the Hurst team gave it one final push on very tired legs, but it proved one match too many, as they had to settle for the runners-up spot.

With some slick centre court play, Hurst’s U16A started their campaign strongly in their first match against The Marist School from Ascot, as each member of the team made turnovers all the way down court, to take a comfortable 11-2 win.

The Hurst girls were prepared for a tough second match against St Helen & St Katharine of Abingdon, as they had lost to this team in the same competition two years ago. Starting strongly, once again, in a well contested match, with the ball going from end to end, a couple of errors crept into the Hurst side’s performance when they had the chance to win, and a 5-5 draw was a fair result.

After the disappointment of a draw, the Hurst girls were eager to make amends in their next match against King Edward VI School from Southampton. The first half was fairly even, however in the second half Hurst pushed forward, with some great shooting when it mattered, to secure a 13-6 win.

Next up was The Grange School from Northwich, who provided good opposition and worked hard to slow down Hurst’s fast-paced game, resulting in some patchy play from the Hurst team. Heading into the final minute they were two goals down, however with composure and some calm, effective play they completed a 10-9 victory.

With The Ryde School pulling out of the tournament, the Hurst girls knew they needed just one bonus point against Wycombe High to finish second in their group and secure a place in the semi-finals, but they were determined to win and finish top of their group. Another good end to end game ensued culminating in a 4-4 score going into half time. Hurst retained their focus, working tirelessly in defence and achieved the one crucial turnover, which the shooter converted, resulting in an 8-7 victory to finish top of the group.

Hurst began their semi-final match against Maiden Erlegh School from Berkshire in steady fashion, but after a few errors found themselves 2-0 down. With some composed play, hard work and good shooting, they swiftly made up the two goal deficit, then just before the half time whistle, they took a great interception from the opposition’s centre pass, which was converted, and then scored from their own centre pass for a 7-4 lead. In the second half, Hurst took some more great interceptions, limiting Maiden Erlegh to just one goal, as they managed to score five, for a 13-5 victory and a place in the national finals.

Celebrations were put on hold as there was still the final to play against Wycombe High, and having taken victory by just one goal in the group stages, the Hurst team were looking forward to another exciting game. With good energy in centre court with good energy, and brilliant shooting, Hurst led 7-4 going into half time and continued to play smart netball during the second half, remaining calm and retaining possession to secure a 12-7 win to become undefeated regional champions.

“We did not expect to return to the nationals in two age groups, even though we knew that both teams were very able. Our teams didn’t take any opposition for granted and the morale was amazing. It was a very proud and memorable day, clearly demonstrating that hard work pays off as the girls were rewarded for their efforts. Tremendous play and team spirit – Hurst netball continues to go from strength to strength”, said Rebecca Jutson, Hurst’s Head of Netball.