ROCKED THE NETBALL WORLD
Tameside NC became the ENG U16's Netball Cup National Champions after an unforgettable day at the national finals held at the Essex Sports Arena on December 8th. The Manchester-based team overcame tough opposition to secure the first-ever ENG U16's Netball Cup title which also meant they qualified for the ENG U16's Netball Super Cup in Gibraltar on February 16th.
This event which started in September was about to reach its finale. With fifteen teams qualified from four regions across the country, it promised to be an epic battle between some of the best U16's netball teams in the country. Every team knew what was at stake and the prizes on offer and with nearly 500 people in attendance, it was time to find out what team would rock the netball world.
Unlikely Western Finals champions Teignbridge Titans got this group underway against one of the competition favourites Weston Park Blades. After such an amazing performance in the regional event where Teignbridge defied the odds to win the Western Finals, a similar performance would be needed to take down Weston Park Blades who's team were packed full of quality players, with some even representing England. What was expected to be a close encounter turned to anything but with Weston Park Blades winning 16-3. Ryland NC took on Aces NC in the other opening game of the group, and this was more of a tight affair with both teams matching each other through-out. Ryland NC and Aces NC had both finished 3rd in their regional encounters and this was reflected in the score with Aces just squeezing past the Nottinghamshire based team 8-6.
After such a big defeat in their opening game, Teignbridge Titans needed to bounce back against Ryland NC who also had lost their opening game. Again a close encounter which had nothing between the teams, but it Teignbridge who just edged it winning 11-9. Weston Park Blades who started the event in such destructive form carried on where they left off with another commanding performance against Rushmoor NC winning 16-3.
Ryland NC needed to turn these close games in their favour after two narrow defeats saw them staring at an early exit in the competition. They came up against Rushmoor in their 3rd game and once again the game was finely balanced. Again though Ryland was on the other end of a close game and lost 8-6 which meant they had to produce something extraordinary against Weston Park Blades NC in the final group game to have a chance of qualification.
The group was coming to a close and another close game saw Aces NC narrowly defeat Rushmoor NC 13-12 which was becoming a regular theme in the group. Weston Park Blades NC was back in action after having a small break and again they were in fine form winning 11-4, a result which condemned Ryland to last place in the group and elimination from the competition.
So we headed into the final games in the group and all the teams were aware they had all qualified for the knock-outs, but in what position. Rushmoor NC ended the groups with another close win against Teignbridge Titans, winning 12-10. The game of the round though was between Aces NC and Weston Park Blades NC. Weston Park Blades NC took an early lead and looked set to record maximum points in the group. As the second half got underway Aces battled back and with the score 6-5 with seconds to go, it looked like Weston Park Blades would survive the Aces onslaught. With seconds to spare though the umpire made a decision which led to the Aces goal shooter having an opportunity to even the tie when everyone thought the game had ended. With the shot being so far away the draw looked unlikely but unbelievably the ball flew into the net which created amazing scenes inside the arena and levelled the game at 6-6.
Teignbridge Titans 3 Vs Weston Park Blades 16
Ryland NC 6 Vs Aces NC 8
Teignbridge Titans 11 Vs Ryland NC 9
Weston Park Blades NC 16 Vs Rushmoor NC 3
Ryland NC 6 Vs Rushmoor NC 8
Teignbridge Titans NC 7 Vs Aces NC 11
Aces NC 13 Vs Rushmoor NC 12
Weston Park Blades NC 11 Vs Ryland NC 4
Weston Park Blades NC 6 Vs Aces NC 6
Teignbridge Titans NC 10 Vs Rushmoor NC 12
1st: Weston Park Blades W 3 D 1 L 0 PTS 7 (Q)
2nd: Aces NC W 3 D 1 L 0 PTS 7 (Q)
3rd: Rushmoor NC W 2 D 0 L 2 PTS 4 (Q)
4th: Teignbridge Titans NC W 1 D 0 L 3 PTS 2 (Q)
5th: Ryland NC W 0 D 0 L 4 PTS 0
A group which had the No.1 team in the country and competition favourites Oldham NC. All talk leading up to this event was whether any team had what it took to take down one of the most successful netball teams in the country and Oldham answered that question initially after a 13-3 win against Poole NC in their opening game. AP Saints NC who welcomed back one of their players who plays for England got their event underway with a 10-7 win against Trafford Juniors who were very much un-prepared after arriving late.
Oldham NC after their opening win came up against AP Saints NC and this was going to represent early on which team would potentially be successful at the event. The game was played in an intense environment with both sides matching each other goal for goal. As the latter stages of the game came to a close Oldham showed that extra bit of discipline to squeeze past an AP Saints NC side who showed they were here not to make up the numbers. Alongside this game, Suffolk Rockets NC, who were supported by a small army of amazing supporters got their competition underway and were just beaten by Poole NC 6-5. After starting slow start Suffolk Rockets NC fought back and just ran out of time to force the draw in a game which could have gone either way.
Trafford Juniors were back in action and still were not fully ready for the task in hand due to the late arrival. They were now going up against Oldham NC who were in no mood to take it lightly on their local rivals. Oldham dominated the game from start to finish, winning 16-2. AP Saints NC who just got beaten in their previous game was wanting to bounce back in style which was unfortunate for Suffolk Rockets NC. The game was very one-sided and it ended 16-1 to the North London side.
Trafford Juniors needed a win, not only for their confidence but to make sure they wouldn't be eliminated from the event. They like Suffolk Rockets NC had lost both their opening games so was a hugely important game for both teams to get a win under belts. Trafford Juniors finally got the win they needed which meant Suffolk Rockets NC had to find a result against high flying Oldham NC in their final game. AP Saints NC again was victorious against Poole NC which guaranteed them at least a runner up spot in the group.
Oldham NC finished off a commanding group stage performance with a win over Suffolk Rockets NC. This meant Suffolk Rockets were eliminated from the event but their supporters need a special mention after their incredible support which kept the team going to the very end. Trafford Juniors were now warming up into the event and recorded their second victory in a row, defeating Poole NC 11-6.
Oldham NC 13 Vs Poole NC 3
AP Saints NC 10 Vs Trafford Juniors 7
Oldham NC 8 Vs AP Saints NC 6
Poole NC 6 Vs Suffolk Rockets NC 5
AP Saints NC 16 Vs Suffolk Rockets 1
Oldham NC 16 Vs Trafford Juniors 2
Trafford Juniors 11 Vs Suffolk Rockets NC 2
Poole NC 6 Vs AP Saints NC 13
Oldham NC 17 Vs Suffolk Rockets NC 2
Poole NC 6 Vs Trafford Juniors 11
1st: Oldham NC W 4 D 0 L 0 PTS 8 (Q)
2nd: AP Saints NC W 3 D 0 L 1 PTS 6 (Q)
3rd: Trafford Juniors W 2 D 0 L 2 PTS 4 (Q)
4th: Poole NC W 1 D 0 L 3 PTS 2 (Q)
5th: Suffolk Rockets NC W 0 D 0 L 4 PTS 0
Kent County NC A took on Kent County NC B in one the first games of this group and it was the KCNC A who started the event with a win over their B team 12-5. Tameside NC was up against Team Beds, and it was a straight forward victory for the Manchester-based club.
After winning both their opening games in the group Tameside NC and KCNC A were up against one another, with KCNC A winning their regional heat with such ease this was going to be a big test of their credentials in this competition. Tameside NC was in fine form in this tie and won 10-6. Grangetown NC got their competition underway with a comprehensive win over the young KCNC B side.
We were treated to a ferocious game next with Tameside taking on Grangetown in the groups most competitive and exciting game. Grangetown NC bossed the early stages, but Tameside clawed themselves back into the tie to force a draw and maintain their unbeaten run in the competition. KCNC A got back to winning ways with a 16-3 win over Team Beds.
This group was coming to a close and Tameside collected another win to potentially secure the top place in the group, but Grangetown had other ideas with another two wins themselves, one of them being a close hard-fought 7-6 win over KCNC A. The last game in the group saw two teams who had both lost all their games competing to see who would go through to the knock-outs. Team Beds started the strongest against KCNC B, with their goal shooter in fine form. KCNC B did manage to stage a comeback late on but it wasn't enough and Team Beds won the tie 9-6 and a place in the knock-outs.
KCNC A 12 Vs KCNC B 5
Tameside NC 11 Vs Team Beds 5
KCNC A 6 Vs Tameside NC 10
Grangetown NC 13 Vs KCNC B 4
Tameside NC 6 Vs Grangetown NC 6
KCNC A 16 Vs Team Beds 3
Team Beds 4 Vs Grangetown NC 14
Tameside NC 10 Vs KCNC B 3
Team Beds 9 Vs KCNC B 6
KCNC A Vs Grangetown NC 7
1st: Grangetown NC W 3 D 1 L 0 PTS 7 (Q)
2nd: Tameside NC W 3 D 1 L 0 PTS 7 (Q)
3rd: KCNC A W 2 D 0 L 2 PTS 4 (Q)
4th: Team Beds W 1 D 0 L 3 PTS 2 (Q)
5th: KCNC B W 0 D 0 L 4 PTS 0
Tameside NC (14) Vs Team Beds (3): Convincing win for Tameside NC who were unfortunate not to go through as group winners. Team Beds though did themselves proud and would have benefitted from playing such high-level opposition.
AP Saints NC (12) Vs Poole NC (7): Not as quite straight forward as the scoreline suggests. Poole NC started brightly and was putting AP Saints NC under pressure. Some stern words at half time saw AP Saints NC grab control of the tie and set up a mouth-watering fixture against Grangetown NC.
KCNC A (14) Vs Teignbridge Titans (11): Easily one of the most evenly matched games of this round and the game and score reflected that. Both teams knew they could win this tie and we were treated to a good competitive game. A back and forth game saw KCNC A finally take control and win.
Rushmoor NC (8) Vs Trafford Juniors (14): Another game on paper that looked like it could go either way saw Trafford Juniors produce a fantastic performance to set up a quarter-final tie with Oldham NC. After a slow start to the event, Trafford Juniors were looking good and certainly ready for the task in front of them next.
Aces NC (7) Vs Tameside NC (8): One of the competitions most entertaining games took place between two incredible teams. The first half was a one-sided affair with Aces going into the break 5-1 up and it looked like Tameside NC would have to settle for a top-eight finish. As the second half got underway Tameside NC took to the court with a do or die attitude and they slowly chopped away at the Aces NC lead. As the game neared its end Tameside took the lead and held on to book a place in the semi-finals.
AP Saints NC (11) Vs Grangetown NC (10): Another classic ENG game was played out. Grangetown NC who had performed superbly in the groups were looking in fine form as they started this tie and were dominating AP Saints NC through-out the first half and went in at the break a couple of goals up on AP Saints NC. As the second half started Grangetown NC still looked good for the win but AP Saints NC was slowly coming back into it. As the minutes ticked by Grangetown NC missed two crucial shots to allow AP Saints NC to level the tie. In the closing seconds, AP Saints NC pushed on by their coach got the decisive goal to win and break Grangetown's hearts in the process.
Weston Park Blades (19) Vs Kent County NC A (7): Kent County NC A came up against a strong side in Weston Park Blades NC. A strong first half from Weston Park Blades meant KCNC A had a lot to do in the second half. As the second half started KCNC A knew they needed a miracle but to be fair to them they won the second half, but it wasn't enough to stop the Weston Park Blades train powering into the semi-finals.
Trafford Juniors (10) Vs Oldham NC (9): Out of all the fixtures this looked like the most likely to follow the script. Oldham NC who are not only recognised as the No.1 team in the country by Netball England they had already defeated Trafford Juniors 16-2 in the groups. As the game got underway it was clear Oldham wouldn't have it there own way with Trafford Juniors battling for every ball in a way they didn't do in the groups. The key thing to this game was staying in touch with Oldham NC who moved the ball with so much conviction through-out, but as the teams went in at the half time it was 6-6 and everyone was silently thinking that we could see a shock on the cards. As the second half started the same pattern of play continued until finally, Oldham NC got the two-goal lead they needed to create a bit of breathing space between them and Trafford Juniors who weren't giving an inch. Once Oldham had the two-goal advantage there was a feeling the game was over but a turnover with a couple of minutes to go changed the whole game again and Trafford Juniors managed to bring the tie to 9-9. With both teams battling to score the decisive goal, a 50-50 challenge went the way of Trafford Juniors who then scored to win the tie and create one of the biggest upsets in ENG Netball Cup history.
AP Saints NC (7) Vs Weston Park Blades (8): After the incredible quarter-final ties we were ready to see another action-packed round of competitive netball. This game had everything and it was time to see who had the mental toughness to proceed to the final. AP Saints NC started well and controlled the first half, this was the first time Weston Park Blades looked vulnerable at this event and they went in at half time losing. The second half began and AP Saints found themselves two goals up. A pattern in play to go three goals up and kill the tie was on but instead of driving for goal AP Saints NC tried to keep possession which backfired with Weston Park Blades forcing the turnover. After this Weston Park Blades could sense they had a chance to get back into the game and did just that by levelling the tie 7-7. With both teams losing the ball in the final minute due to nerves it was left to the Weston Park Blades goal shooter to score on the buzzer to win the tie and book a place in the final for Southampton based team.
Trafford Juniors (5) Vs Tameside NC (10): After such an incredible performance in the quarter-finals you could forgive Trafford Juniors to not be at their absolute best in this tie. Tameside NC took full advantage of a Trafford Juniors team who looked like they were still trying to recover from the heroic previous performance against Oldham and booked a place in the final against Weston Park Blades.
AP Saints NC (6) Vs Trafford Juniors (8): If Trafford Juniors weren't ready for their semi-final tie the same could be said for AP Saints NC in this one. After such a cruelling defeat in the semi-finals, AP Saints NC looked mentally exhausted and allowed Trafford Juniors to dominate proceedings and secure the bronze medal in this event.
Tameside NC (9) Vs Weston Park Blades (8): This was it and all the months of talking and promoting this amazing netball competition was about to end. Weston Park Blades started the game fast and found themselves 2-0 up in the first couple of minutes. The next passage of play was crucial due to Weston Park Blades having possession and having the opportunity to go 3-0 up, which was of given Tameside a huge mountain to climb. Weston Park Blades attacked the goal and the opportunity to make it 3-0 was missed after Tameside forced an error. It was now game on and Tameside quickly levelled the game and stormed into the lead which was a shock based on how the initial part of the game panned out. At half time the score was 7-4 to Tameside NC.
Weston Park Blades had alot of work to do but had been in this position before in the semi-finals so Tameside knew not to take their foot off the gas. As the half progressed Blades were forcing their way back into the tie and you could sense the game was not over. With the score now 9-8 with thirty seconds to go, Weston Park Blades had possession and we had the grandstand finish the competition deserved. Unfortunately for Blades, Tameside NC defended well and forced the errors which delayed the game long enough to crown them the first-ever ENG U16's Netball Cup National Champions and win a trip to Gibraltar to play in the eagerly anticipated ENG Netball Super Cup.
Winners: Tameside NC
Runners Up: Weston Park Blades
3rd: Trafford Juniors
MVP: Savannah Dada-Masscoll (Tameside NC)
The ENG U16's Netball Cup was all about offering this age group an amazing opportunity before they left school. At this age, things change quickly when playing team sports due to other commitments and this competition looked to represent an opportunity for teams to enjoy an event which celebrated the quality of netball at this level but also offer a memorable prize to make it a little more exciting. It was a hard sell we won't lie about that, but the national final served up some of the most memorable games and experiences we have witnessed since running our netball events.
To all the teams, parents, umpires, venues who supported our event, we can't thank you enough for that support. We will always do more than the norm to make your experience as memorable as ours.
Lastly, we would like to say a big well done to Tameside for winning the event and Savannah Dada-Masscoll who won the MVP award after a stunning performance throughout the event. She owned the court from start to finish and we can't wait to see what the future holds for this young netball star.
Have a great Christmas and will see you again in 2020.
THE EVENT THAT ROCKED THE NETBALL WORLD!