Putney High (U14), Redmaids’ High School (U16) and Berkhamsted (U19) have been crowned National Schools Finals champions.
After qualifying through the county and then regional rounds, the top 18 teams in each age group went head-to-head at Oundle School in Northamptonshire.
For the first time this year, a National Schools Cup was introduced with the teams finishing third and fourth in their respective sections contesting semi-finals before a third-place play-off and final.
Yarm School (section A) and Putney High School (section B) enjoyed unbeaten starts in the opening stage, recording seven wins and a draw each to top their respective groups.
Withington, who posted the highest goal average of the day, also made it through from section A, while Walthamstow High School secured the second semi-final spot from section B after getting the better of Bromsgrove School on goal average.
Bromsgrove School were joined by St Swithun’s, Hurstpierpoint and King’s School, Worcester in the Cup semi-finals. The energy levels were high out on court with the teams giving their all but it was King’s School, Worcester and St Swithuns who set up a Cup final meeting.
St Swithun’s, representing the South region, saw off their West Midlands rivals (9-20) to return home with the Cup, while Hurstpierpoint took third after an 8-11 victory over Bromsgrove School.
The stage was set for the final with reigning champions Putney High School meeting 2022’s third-placed side Withington after 10-6 and 5-13 victories over Walthamstow Hall School and Yarm School respectively. The London and South East school then successfully defended their crown with an 8-13 victory.
Walthamstow Hall School dominated the third-place play-off and sealed the bronze medal with a 6-17 win against Yarm, who despite missing out on a podium position, recorded their best-ever finish in the competition.
In the U16 age category, Hurstpierpoint (section C) and North Chadderton (section D) topped their respective sections after both winning seven and losing one of their opening stage fixtures.
They were joined in the National Schools Finals semi-finals by Bromsgrove School, who recorded six wins and two defeats, and Redmaids’ High School, who started off with five victories, one draw and a loss.
Defending champions Cheadle Hulme School (3rd, section C), Torquay Girls’ Grammar School (4th, section C), The Marist (3rd, section D) and Presdales School (4th, section D) progressing to compete in the newly-introduced National Schools Cup semi-finals.
Cheadle Hulme ran out 12-8 winners against Presdales School while Torquay Girls’ Grammar School edged out The Marist 13-14 to set up the Cup final. Torquay Girls’ Grammar School proved too strong for their opponents to take the trophy. Meanwhile, The Marist bounced back to claim third place in the Cup.
There was some fantastic netball on display throughout the day and this continued as the finalists were decided with Redmaids’ High School overcoming Hurstpierpoint (9-15) and Bromsgrove School securing a narrow 11-12 victory over North Chadderton.
The final was a closely-contested affair with Redmaids’ High School getting the better of Bromsgrove School (14-10). In the third-place play-off, extra time was needed to separate the two sides with Hurstpierpoint, the only school to have a team qualify for all three age groups in this year’s final, taking the win (13-14).
Berkhamsted won seven of their matches on the way to the top of section E and they were joined by Hartpury College in the semi-finals.
In section F, it was Millfield School who topped the group ahead of Wirral Grammar Schools for Girls on goal average after both notching up six wins and two defeats.
The Cup competition saw Wellington, Stephen Perse School, Hurstpierpoint and Wrekin College go head-to-head. There wasn’t much to separate the four sides and interestingly, both semi-finals finished with the scoreline 13-10 in favour of Wellington and Wrekin College.
After beating Wrekin College in one of their first matches of the day, Wellington did the double over their rivals (16-12) to lift the Cup. Hurstpierpoint regrouped after their semi-final defeat and ended their competition on a high with a 10-19 win over Stephen Perse School to claim third in the Cup.
Berkhamsted continued their impressive form to fend off Wirral Grammar Schools for Girls with a 11-7 victory while Hartpury College had too much for section F leaders Millfield and ran out 10-13 winners.
When Hartpury College and Berkhamsted met in the opening stages, it was a nail-biting one-goal win to the East-based side and they once again triumphed by the same margin in an exciting final. In the third-place play-off, Millfield proved too strong for their rivals.
A full list of all the results, as well as the final standings, from the U14, U16 and U19 competitions can be viewed here.
Thank you to all the players, coaches, support staff, umpires, officials, volunteers, spectators and staff at Oundle School for a brilliant weekend of competition.