The U19 and U21 Netball Performance Leagues (NPL) have reached the end of the group stages as clubs now prepare for finals day at the University of Worcester Arena on July 18.
The NPL is part of the Elite Sport Framework which allowed netballers within the Performance Pathway to take part in valuable competition in the past few months after the 2019/20 season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was a hotly contested battle for positions over five rounds providing some of the finest young talent in the country the opportunity to showcase their skills.
Here’s a recap of how all the teams fared…
The final match in Group A saw Loughborough Lightning draw 36-36 with Manchester Thunder, which underlined how close the two sides are with Lightning narrowly pipping the 2019 title winners to top spot. Both teams finished the group stages unbeaten ahead of Wasps Netball, who placed behind them in third as a thrilling 35-34 victory over Leeds Rhinos in Round 2 ultimately proved decisive. Rhinos eventually got the win they wanted in Round 5 with a 38-25 success at North East, who scored their highest number of goals, but it wasn’t enough to prevent them coming last in the group.
London Pulse were the stand-out side in Group B with three wins – including an impressive 43-24 triumph over runners-up Severn Stars – and a draw which saw them emerge undefeated. Stars won the rest of their matches, with a crucial 36-32 win against Team Bath coming in Round 4 to ensure they finished above them. Bath were the only side to stop Pulse from winning in their 35-35 draw in Round 2 but losing to Stars meant they finished third. Saracens Mavericks were unfortunate in four-goal defeats to both Stars and Bath as they came fourth, with a tight 38-36 victory against Surrey Storm in Round 4 condemning their opponents to last place.
View the U19 finals day fixtures here
Manchester Thunder won every match in Group A including a few close encounters as they deservedly finished top. They beat Leeds Rhinos 36-32 in Round 3, and Rhinos lost 39-35 at 2019 champions Wasps Netball in Round 2 as well but their two victories ensured they claimed second spot. Wasps and Loughborough Lightning also ended the group stages with a record of two wins and two defeats as two points separated Rhinos in second, Wasps in third, and Lightning in fourth despite their 34-31 win at Wasps in Round 5. North East came last with two points and produced their best performance in a 38-30 loss to Wasps in Round 3.
Group B is led by a rampant London Pulse side, who claimed four wins out of four with an average goal difference of 21. They were followed in the table by Saracens Mavericks, who lost 52-30 to Pulse in Round 1 and won every match thereafter. Surrey Storm finished in third after two victories and two defeats, pipping Team Bath to the spot courtesy of a 48-33 win against them in Round 3. Bath secured their only win in the group in Round 4 as they beat Severn Stars 42-32, which left Stars in last place with four losses out of four.
View the U21 finals day fixtures here
Everyone at England Netball wishes all the teams the best of luck ahead of finals day and a massive thank you to all our brilliant officials and volunteers for your hard work and support to get this season up and running.