A history making day in Sedbergh Girls Sport with the 1st VII qualifying for National Netball Finals for the first time ever. Matches are 7 minutes each way so games are high intensity and every error proves costly. The day began with a loss against Holy Cross 12-8 despite being up 6-5 at half time, this was a physical encounter across the court with England and Manchester Thunder representatives in the opposition ranks. Despite the loss the girls rallied and returned to beat Wirral Grammar 17-5, a team who had qualified for Nationals last year and who Sedbergh had not ever beaten at Regional Finals. Kings Macclesfield were beaten 21-3 as were Runshaw 17-6, lots of goals to our advantage.
The results put us 2nd in our group and up against Cheadle Hulme in the semi final. Sedbergh have reached Semi finals in previous years but hadn’t ever beaten the strong Manchester schools to take a Nationals place. The Sedbergh girls stormed the first half, showing outstanding class and deceptive skill, and at half time were up 7-2, a good margin in a 7 minute half. The second half began with a show of nerves and hesitation, a couple of loose passes, an offside and an interception brought the score back to 7-5 with one minute to go. The spectators were biting their nails and looking anxious, our fantastic Sedbergh parents who had travelled the length and breadth of the country to support this team were counting the goals, it looked as though the Sedbergh girls might relent but Julia Haywood took a ball deep in the defending pocket to prevent a feed into the Cheadle shooters, the ball was passed around to waste time and the final whistle went – a 7-6 win and a first ever qualification for National Netball Finals for a Sedbergh team putting us into the top 18 schools in the country. The final was a step too far and Sedbergh lost to Holy Cross again with the girls exhausted having given their all in the previous game to secure the nationals place.
The 1st VII have worked so hard and dedicated hours to training and strength and conditioning, early morning shooting for our duo of Georgia Turner and Amy Lewin who have played together since Year 5 at Terra Nova – their telepathy and astounding accuracy secured the victories. Rosie Herman at WA delivered feeds into the circle that were worthy of an international call up finding space and showing the flair of a superleague centre court player. Julia Haywood, who received her Netball Colours afterwards, was the centre court maestro, pounding up and down the court in attack and defence, turning ball and feeding with superb vision. Hannah Steel, returned from injury, made an exceptional contribution to the defence, solid and capable, she neutralised many attacking moves. And finally the defensive partnership of Tabby Holdsworth and Imo Caudwell who between them thwarted some outstanding attacking moves from England internationals and NPL representatives, rebounding balls from missed shots and turning over balls that made the watching crowds gasp – a truly fantastic team who worked together and despite having no representative players in the squad showed just what teamwork can achieve if everyone works together. Faith Barnes and Eden McGuire were supportive on the sidelines and always ready to take their place and our injured Francessca Cooke looked on proudly and supported her team mates, good for us that she will now be fit for the finals.
A truly fantastic performance from the 1st VII and truly deserving of their place at National Finals on Saturday 17th March in Hertfordshire. The National Finals are the top 18 schools in the country, with 2 qualifying from each of the 9 regions, traditionally the North West have proven to be a strong region so we look forward to performing on this national stage. Well done girls, very proud of you all.