The 2016/17 National Schools Finals were held in the wonderful surroundings of Stanborough School, Welwyn Garden City on Saturday where new winners were crowned in all three age groups.
For two of the sides it would be an ever sweeter victory having finished runners-up in last year’s edition.
The facilities were ready with Stanborough boasting a dedicated netball centre with nine fabulous floodlit courts.
This was part of a project co-funded by England Netball which was completed in May 2016 and hosting the National Schools Finals just ten months later.
A cool, but crucially dry, morning welcomed the 54 teams to Hertfordshire as play commenced at 9am with 27 exhausting rounds ahead.
In the U14 age category, Parrenthorn dominated Section A, winning all eight matches played. They were joined in the semi-finals by Guildford High School after a thrilling 13-13 draw against Headington School saw them finish two points ahead of Berkhamsted.
Godolphin & Latymer took the honours in Section B, only an 8-8 tie with The Grange spoiling their perfect record. Canford qualified in second place, narrowly beating Brighton College and Saffron Walden to a semi-final place by a single point.
Two phenomenal semi-finals followed with both Section A teams beating their ‘B’ counterparts by a single goal. Parrenthorn defeated Canford 11-10 and Guildford High got the better of Godolphin & Latymer by 10-9.
It was to be Godolphin & Latymer who bounced back best in the third place-play off to secure a 14-6 victory over Canford.
A perfect day was wrapped up by Parrenthorn as despite Guildford High edging closer than they had done in the group stage, the North-West side lifted the trophy with a 14-11 win.
Section C in the U16 category saw Tonbridge Grammar take seven wins and an entertaining 12-12 draw, against Higham Lane, to top the group. They were joined in the semi-finals by Hulme Grammar.
Millfield were in imperious form to record a maximum 40 points in Section D. A real scrap ensued for second spot with Brighton College, The King John School and Bromsgrove School all locked together on 28 points. A goal difference of +21 was just enough to see Brighton qualify.
Tonbridge continued their fine form with a 12-8 success against Brighton College in the semi-finals. They were joined in the final by Hulme Grammar as they outlasted Millfield, 12-11.
That narrow defeat saw the heads drop for Millfield who went on to lost out on third spot to Brighton who secured a good 12-4 win.
In the group stages, Hulme Grammar had been easily seen off by Tonbridge, but they peaked at just the right time to reverse the roles and capture the trophy with an 11-6 victory. It was a fantastic response from the team having finished second in the age category in 2016.
It was a fantastic contest in the U19s Section E. Holy Cross College came out on top, only dropping points in a 12-12 tie with Barking Abbey.
Their opponents finished on 34 points and qualified in second thanks to a superior goal difference over Grammar School at Leeds, despite losing their clash against Leeds, 8-10.
Queen Ethleburgha’s qualified in first place from Section F with a 100% win record. Joining them were Beaconsfield High School who only lost the one game, against the table toppers.
The semi-finals were dominated by teams from section F as Queen Ethleburgha’s defeated Barking Abbey 13-9 and Beaconsfield took an 11-6 victory over Holy Cross.
Despite scoring the most goals in the group stages, Holy Cross were unable to pick themselves up and Barking Abbey took third place with a thrilling 17-16 win.
The final was a closely fought affair with Beaconsfield eager to overcome the heartache from 2016 when they narrowly missed out on the title.
Each team were throwing their all at capturing the trophy and at the final whistle it would be Beaconsfield who came out on top, securing the win by a 9-7 score line.
National Schools Finals 2017:
U14s: Champions – Parrenthorn High School; 2nd – Guildford High School; 3rd – Godolphin & Latymer School
U16s: Champions – Hulme Grammar; 2nd – Tonbridge Grammar School; 3rd – Brighton College
U19s: Champions – Beaconsfield High School; 2nd – Queen Ethleburgha’s Collegiate; 3rd – Barking Abbey
Endeavour Trophy: The King John School U16s
Defensive Trophy: Millfield U16s – 40 goals conceded
Goals Trophy: Holy Cross College U19s – 125 goals scored
A full list of the results and final standings from the 2016/17 National Schools Finals can be viewed here.