Hurst’s senior netball teams reach national finalsFebruary 10, 2017
Two senior netball teams from Hurst College successfully negotiated the Sussex round of the National Schools Competition in September and the regional finals this weekend, to reach the national finals in March.
The first team had a tough draw with Wellington, Beaconsfield High, Oxford High, Portsmouth Grammar and Aylesbury.
Hurst started the tournament with a draw against Wellington, despite being four goals up at half time. This result provided the motivation needed as the girls followed up with wins over Oxford and Portsmouth Grammar.
With an eye on the score chart before their next match against Cowes, the girls needed to increase the goals for and reduce the goals against to stay in the hunt for a national final place. In the meantime, Aylesbury withdrew from the competition and Portsmouth beat Wellington to take the pressure off significantly and the girls went on to beat Cowes 26-1 in 14 minutes with each squad member enjoying court time.
Next up was the impressive Beaconsfield High, who had not lost a match all tournament, and who set the early pace. The girls responded well but were outplayed in a 16-6 defeat. Despite this loss, the Hurst team had done enough to reach the semi-final against Peter Symonds, the group winners from the other side of the draw. The Hurst team started slowly as Peter Symonds took three goals in quick succession. Then the girls settled, responded well and dictated the second quarter to finish with a win by seven goals and qualify for the national finals, with one match still to play.
The final was a re-match against Beaconsfield High, and with the pressure off, the girls played a much improved game to go just 2-1 down at half time and 8-4 down at full time.
Head of Hurst Netball, Bex Jutson said: “The girls were so focused and determined, and this is a true example of what energy, commitment, team work and belief does to a squad. I am delighted to have led the first team girls, alongside our captain Sophie Gardiner, to the national finals. The girls and I are feeling very proud and honoured right now – this achievement is very well deserved.”
First up for the U16s were Queen Anne’s School (Berkshire), and with some accurate shooting and constant turnovers, the Hurst girls completed a 15-6 victory. The next game against Headington School, Oxford, saw both teams under pressure, as Hurst scrapped a 4-2 lead at half time. In the second half, the girls reduced their errors to take an 11-4 win.
With a big gap in the schedule, the Hurst team kept their focus before taking on a determined Portsmouth Grammar, when a high number of turnovers in defence were the key a 10-4 Hurst win. Aylesbury High came next, and the Hurst girls retained their composure to win 12-1. This was followed by the match against Cowes, when the Hurst team came out hard from the first whistle and managed to sustain the effort for the entire 14 minutes winning 25-3.
In the final group match against Wycombe Abbey, a couple of errors slipped into the Hurst game and at half time they were one goal down. A few changes and some injection of energy in the second half, which was sustained through to the final whistle, resulted in a 7-7 draw.
Despite the draw, Hurst finished top of their group to go up against Yateley (Hampshire), who finished second in the opposing group, in the semi-final. With the pressure mounting in the knowledge that a win would secure a spot in the national finals, the girls played safe and composed netball. An exciting game for spectators, with both teams displaying accurate shooting and the ball going end to end, it was a battle until the final seconds when Hurst secured the win 10-9, and a spot at the national finals,
The final game was against Brighton College, a team Hurst had beaten in the Sussex round, the girls battled well, but having given their all in the previous match had nothing more to give in their only loss of the tournament.
“For both teams to quality for the nationals finals, by taking second place in the regionals, is an excellent result. The girls represented themselves, their teams and the College at the highest level in the best possible way. Well done to each and every one of them and our fantastic coaching team,” said Bex Jutson.