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The School’s netballers had a successful outing on Sunday 6 March, rounding off Mother’s Day as runners up in the U16 division of the county finals at Croydon High School.
St John’s had a tough draw and faced some strong opposition in the form of Epsom College, St Catherine’s Bramley, Cranleigh and the notoriously difficult to beat Coloma High School. In their first match against Epsom, St John’s had a lucky 9-8 win, followed by a similar 8-6 victory over Cranleigh.
The girls’ third match was against a well-drilled and feisty St Cats side. St John’s started off 2-0 down and clawed back the deficit to make it 4-4 at half time. In the dying moments of the second half, St John’s had an opportunity to win and score the game, but with 30 seconds to go, St Cats were the composed team and punished the St John’s side to win the game 8-9. This loss started to turn the tables in the group stages.
Against Alleyn’s, St John’s finally started to play some of their better netball, and it was here that goal difference proved to be imperative. After defeating Alleyan’s 9-4, it all came down to the final group match against Coloma. St John’s went 2-0 down again in the opening minutes, and the score line showed 3-4 to Coloma at half time. After a harsh team talk, St John’s fought back to bring the score to 5-5. In the last two seconds of the game Coloma scored a goal, but this was disallowed as the hooter rang out. At the end of the group stages, St John’s went through to the semi-finals on goal difference, alongside group winner St Catherine’s Bramley.
Coming second in the group meant that St John’s had to play Guildford High School in the semi-finals, the winner of the other group. After having lost to Guildford in the National School round by 11 goals in November, the girls were ready and waiting for pay-back. In the first quarter, St John’s surprisingly went up 3-0. What a way to start after a turbulent set of matches! GHS wanted a piece of the pie and tried to fight back – but the defensive efforts of Ellie Grove and Ruby Breakspear kept the GHS shooters at bay, to bring the final score to 7-5.
In the final, St John’s faced Wimbledon High School. The game was a real battle of the mid-court, and it was a question of who was going to make the first mistake. Many umpiring calls frustrated both sides, and with three minutes to go in the final half, St John’s were up by one, but with a loss of possession, WHS were able to capitalise on what was a quick three-goal lead. The game seemed to be over in seconds (St John’s losing 8-11), which unfortunately didn’t reflect the competiveness of the game. However, the win was truly deserved by WHS.
The School’s Assistant Director of Sport (Lower School), Kerry Walsh, commented: ‘Credit needs to be given to our captain Katie Littlewood, who on a number of occasions, was able to save things in a variety of matches. Overall, the whole team had a rollercoaster of a day, but should be incredibly proud of getting to the final of a highly competitive competition.’
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