U16 netball: Jersey girls simply the best

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In their final matches they beat Mayflower (Plymouth) 37-15, and Eagles (Berkshire) 21-19 – an especially pleasing result as Eagles’ team included two England Talent 1 players – to finish unbeaten in the league – although they have yet to be officially declared the winners.

All the squad members played in the Mayflower game, rotating with ease, some good interceptions by GK Amy Cox and accurate shots by GS Kelly Horton meaning they won comfortably.

Then it was straight back on court to face the Eagles, a side specifically drafted in to provide the sternest of tests for Jersey.

And the Jersey girls knew it, and started nervously, ending 4-2 down after the first quarter.

The defence was kept busy with their opponents’ fast attacking play, but Lauren Devine (GK), Sophie Hickey (GD) and Serena Guthrie (WD) played brilliant defensive netball.

Tactical changes and a constructive team talk saw the girls come out strongly in the third quarter, WA Lara Crenan and centre Megan Conroy communicating well and showing determination and confidence, and depite the physical strength of the opposing defence both Lynsey Pitman (GA) and Jenny Harrop (GS) worked tirelessly and levelled the score at 14-all.

The Jersey team demonstrated their composure under pressure and, with excellent spatial awareness and concentration, they edged to a 21-19 win.

Accompanying coach Debbie Pitman said: ‘All of our girls worked so hard, in both matches, for each other.

In the Mayflower game they were quite clearly the better team, and they were certainly on a par with the Eagles, who had a very physical defence, but we absorbed the pressure.’ She added: ‘We don’t want our players to play like that, we just want them to play good netball.

I think we showed the English sides that Jersey is definitely up there when it comes to playing standards, despite playing a lot fewer games than they do.’ The U16 squad is now preparing for the annual Alex Barlass tournament in March, and will be travelling to the UK with the senior side later in the season, to play against other English teams.

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