Hartpury Netball Junior 1st Team crowned BCS National Superleague
Hartpury's Junior Netball Team have won the BCS Superleague Championship, beating Truro College in the final to take the title at the Blackbrook Pavilion in Taunton.
Both Colleges offer an Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (AASE) programme in Netball, so it is clear to see the advancement in the players’ ability and skill as a result of the hard training and a good understanding of the game.
Hartpury resumed their training over the Easter holidays so were ready for the tough match ahead of them. The starting line-up of Milly Price at GS, Hartpury captain Lydia Hallbrook GA, Beth Dudden WA, Lauren Brooks C, Katie Hobbs WD, Alix Matthews GD and Sophie Masterson GK. The game started at a very fast pace and continued for the first quarter. Both teams struggled to find their flow due to dominating defence players disrupting passes. The error rate from both teams was high due to long range passes which seemed to have far too much adrenaline behind them. The first 15 minutes ended as quickly as it had begun, Hartpury were in the lead 10 – 8.
No changes to the line-up and the girls picked up where they left off. The two goal advantage was extended to four goals within the first three minutes of play, but this was the only action Hartpury had for the rest of the quarter. Truro came along and stole three centre passes in quick succession, Hartpury kept only one centre pass the entire quarter. The goals were flying in thick and fast from Truro’s GA Abi Caple who also represents England. Interceptions were taken by Price, Brooks, Hobbs, Matthews and Masterson but more often than not the intercepts were thrown away, allowing Truro to extend their lead. Frustrations were starting to kick in; Hartpury had to keep control of their mental game. Gaining just five shots in the second quarter, Hartpury had to find a spark, and fast!
Half-time score, Truro winning 19-15.
Changes to the line-up at half time put Hallbrook in the circle at GS, Price at GA, Steph Dunning replaced Hobbs at WD and Masterson and Matthews swapped positions; GD and GK respectively. The changes were made to inject some fresh legs, speed and disrupt Truro’s flow they had gained. Errors had to be minimised and interceptions had to be cherished to turn the score around. Brooks was flying around the court causing distress to high balls in defence, after working the ball through the court with speed and agility. Two of Truro’s centres were intercepted by Brooks and made their way to Hallbrook and Price to convert with ease. Dunning worked tirelessly on the Truro’s WA, her fitness and persistence paid off earning two interceptions and many tips. Matthews maintained good pressure at GK and fought for 2 crucial rebounds from missed shots. It was goal for goal for a solid six minutes, neither team making mistakes. Possession of the ball was highly sought after and all four shooters shot well.
Score at the end of the third quarter, Truro leading 30 – 27.
The coaching team supported the girls’ focus and reinforced how to break Truro’s attack and work the ball cleverly in to our shooters. The last change saw Matthews and Masterson resume their starting positions. Masterson’s communication gave the defence some structure and Matthews pressured the dominant GA on centre passes. The pace of the game doubled in the final 15 minutes. The players did not show their tiredness and came on to the court with determination and energy. Hartpury needed to steal the centres. Masterson immediately intercepted a pass to the shooter and then a minute later, another one. Brooks always supporting the offload, worked well with Dudden and Price, both players using speed and quick changes in direction, lost their defenders and Hallbrook converted. The game remained tight and supporters were cheering, every goal celebrated. With two fantastic feeds from Brooks into the goal circle from the transverse line, Hartpury found themselves in the lead with just 1 minute and 30 seconds left remaining on the clock. The Truro WA called for injury time, this allowed Hartpury to be informed of the score and the time left remaining. Hartpury’s coach, Sarah Pretty, encouraged them to defend with all they had and hold the ball up for the remaining time. It was Truro’s centre as play resumed and every single Hartpury player shut down space and disrupted all their opposition’s attacking options. Masterson and Matthews turned the ball and it went straight to goal. It was Hartpury’s centre but Dudden was caught breaking the line and Truro were given possession. Hartpury’s defence was like a brick wall and through a solid team effort, Brooks intercepted on the side of the court. This allowed Hartpury to tactically look after the ball, knowing that the clock was running down. Out of nowhere, a truly phenomenal pass from Brooks to Hallbrook, over half the distance of the court, sealed the game.
The Hartpury bench erupted with emotion and celebration, the squad showed their spark, talent and pure grit with the 40–37 victory. This was commented by both Colleges’ coaches as being by far the best game of the season and in the final.
Hartpury College are now National Superleague Champions, the girls can hold their heads high in the knowledge that their hard work and ambition throughout the season have paid off. A huge well done to all the girls involved. Titles are not worth winning unless the competition is worthy and Truro played a big part in the final.
Player of the match goes undoubtedly to Lauren Brooks. Her presence on the court was felt by everyone and her skill and vision is unique. Feeding passes confidently from a large distance and accurately are game makers. Brooks supported fantastically all through the court in attack, also taking interceptions in defence. A very tidy and a high level display of netball by the young England player.