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Herts and Essex High School under-16s come fourth at England Netball National Schools Finals

Herts and Essex High School under-16s came fourth at the England Netball National Schools Finals to become the highest-ranked state school team in the country.

They were also presented with the Pam Telford Endeavour Award for fair play and good sportsmanship at the tournament.

It meant the hard work of the Warwick Road secondary’s PE department to raise the £250 needed to enter the competition and to fund kit and coaching sessions in preparation more than paid off.

The team qualified for the national finals after going unbeaten in the county tournament and then only losing by two goals in the regional final.

Captain Ella Bloomfield-Bowmaker and her team-mates lost their opening game against Solihull before bouncing back in style.

Powerful shooting from Keira Best, Lola Kersey and Erin Bird and solid defending by Michelle Ogungbemi, Olivia Mugele and the skipper ensured they got wins against Newton Abbot, Queen Ethelburga’s College, St George’s College, Stamford and Upton.

Herts and Essex High School under-16s came fourth in the national finals. Picture: @HertsandEssexPE
Herts and Essex High School under-16s came fourth in the national finals. Picture: @HertsandEssexPE

The side gave their all in their last two qualifying round matches as they lost to Yarn and Wellington College, meaning they finished the group stage in second place.

Herts and Essex lined up against Withington, who topped their pool, in the semi-finals and battled hard in a tough encounter.

They were on level terms for much of the game, but two unforced errors in the final few minutes meant they were pipped by their opponents at the death.

The team were given the chance to avenge their defeat to Solihull when they met them again in the 3rd/4th play-off final.

Herts and Essex gave absolutely everything against the team coached by England international Beth Cobden, but, trailing by a goal, they suffered a cruel blow when captain Bloomfield-Bowmaker rolled her ankle with three minutes remaining.

The skipper played on, but Solihull’s shooting proved too good in the closing stages and they won by a two-goal margin.

Also in the squad were Tulah Crace, Millie Fox, Gracie Smith, Esme De Temple and Olivia Dougall.

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