Manchester Thunder were crowned U21 September Showdown champions as they saw off fierce challenges from Surrey Storm and Team Bath to take the title at the University of Worcester yesterday.
A brand new competition saw six Vitality Netball Superleague teams joined by regional side, West Midlands Warriors, and a University of Worcester Select team for four days of action.
Days one and two saw the eight sides split into two groups.
Pool A was dominated by Thunder as they overcame Hertfordshire Mavericks, Loughborough Lightning and Warriors.
Pool B winners were Team Bath who secured a 100% record with victories against Surrey Storm, Team Northumbria and the invited University team.
The top two sides from each group would progress to the semi-final stage on day three. Also qualifying were Mavericks and Storm who secured narrow one-goal wins over Lightning and Northumbria respectively.
Despite narrowly losing out during the previous stage, Lightning and Northumbria recovered to win their next matches and qualify for the 5th place play-off. Warriors and Worcester moved into the 7th place play-off.
Two incredibly tight semi-finals followed with Team Bath coming out on top, 35-30 against Mavericks and Thunder outlasting Storm, 55-51.
The final day saw a local derby as the University of Worcester produced their best display of the tournament. The invited team stayed in touch with Warriors until the half-time interval.
However, a wonderful third quarter saw Warriors increase a seven goal gap to 15. A final score of 57-44 was an indication of how Worcester battled all the way to the last whistle.
A dominant display by Northumbria saw them take 5th place with a resounding 66-37 success over Lightning.
The shooting duo of Chiara Semple and Brie Grierson were in imperious form as the team from the north-east controlled the play throughout.
The match of the tournament was saved for the 3rd place play-off as extra-time was required to separate Mavericks and Storm.
A good opening quarter saw Mavs take a goal five goal advantage. The girls in duck-egg blue reduced the deficit to two goals at the half-time break.
With fifteen minutes to go, the comeback was complete as Storm moved a single goal ahead. A resilient Mavericks held their nerve after an hour the teams were locked at 45-45.
Extra-time was entered and at the midway point of the additional time, Storm had edged into a two goal lead. Mavericks attempted to fight back but Storm ruthlessly saw the game out 58-51.
Fittingly, the two table toppers met in the final on Sunday afternoon. Inspired by a phenomenal shooting performance from Amy Clinton, who netted 41 from 45 attempts at 91%, Thunder produced a scintillating display to defeat Team Bath 56-39.
A 21-8 lead at the end of the first quarter was extended to 35-19 at half-time. Bath rallied in a more competitive second half but led by the brilliant Gabriella Marshall, Thunder held firm to lift the trophy.
2016 U21 September Showdown Final Placings
Champions – Manchester Thunder
2nd – Team Bath
3rd – Surrey Storm
4th – Hertfordshire Mavericks
5th – Team Northumbria
6th – Loughborough Lightning
7th – West Midlands Warriors
8th – University of Worcester Select
England Netball would like to congratulate all of the teams for a wonderful four days of action. A full list of day-by-day results can be viewed here.