A QUARTET of local girls played their part in guiding Bromsgrove-based Ryland Netball Club’s under 14 squad to a superb seventh place in the U14 National Netball Club Finals in Essex.
Meisha Baylis and Caitlin Hillier of Redditch, Katie Burke of Studley and Alcester Grammar School’s Isobel Bridge starred as the Ryland squad showed their talent at national level.
Clubs enter at local level in county competitions and if successful qualify to compete at regional level, from where the top two from each region then qualify for the National Finals.
Ryland U14 qualified as Worcestershire champions in December and then won all of the qualifying matches at regional level between January and March, finally beating local rivals Saracens from Worcester 50-25 in the play-off match to secure their place at the Nationals.
The last time a Worcestershire club had qualified for the U14 finals was also Ryland, back in 2008.
This two-day national competition featured netball of the highest standard and saw the Ryland girls play a total of seven games. First up was an 18-18 draw against a very physical Crystal Palace team and next up were MK Netters, who shot out of the blocks to lead 16-8 at half time.
Ryland composed themselves and had a great second half but came up just short and lost 19-16 against the side who went on to finish fourth.
The afternoon session saw a 32-12 win against Bramford and then a 24-18 loss against Bury, who were eventual runners-up.
Sunday saw renewed determination as the Bury match had made the Ryland girls realise they could compete with the best.
An unbeaten day followed including 20-19 and 21-16 wins against Chevrons and Poole Ferns respectively, leaving Ryland to play for the seventh/eighth placed ranking in the country.
Hucclecote from Gloucestershire were the opponents and a nervy start by Ryland saw them trailing 15-9 at half time.
However, steely determination and a willingness to literally throw themselves all over the place to retrieve the ball triggered an epic comeback and the Ryland supporters could not contain their pride in the girls at the final whistle, having dominated the second half to win it 16-8 and triumph 25-23 overall.
Many of the teams Ryland competed against are linked to Superleague clubs so to hold their own in this impressive fashion was a real display of pride, determination, skill and stamina.
Many of the clubs who competed qualify for the Nationals each year and have an enormous pool of talent to choose from, so everyone at Ryland Netball Club is proud of its under 14 girls, who attend a combination of South Bromsgrove High, Bromsgrove School, Royal Grammar School Worcester, St Augustine’s High School of Redditch and Alcester Grammar School.
Ryland’s under 14 girls, sponsored by Motorhome Sales of Studley, are now ranked seventh in the country – the highest placing a West Midlands under 14s team has achieved for quite some time.
The full squad is: Evie Beardsley (captain), Kitty Luscombe (vice-captain), Kate Morrice, Meisha Baylis, Caitlin Hillier, Alex Smith, Katie Burke, Robyn Yeomans, Ariana Jones, Isobel Bridge.