It has been a busy weekend for the four national teams who competed in the annual Netball Europe World Youth Cup Qualifiers, held in Cardiff. The U21 squads from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales had already successfully qualified for the 2017 World Youth Cup, drawing emphasis to placing top in the tournament. England were natural favourites to win and proved their worth with an incredible three figure win of 101 -26 against Northern Ireland on the Friday evening.
Despite a strong start, Friday’s winners Scotland and England took time warming into their usual game standards in the first match on Saturday. The pressure and fast pace caused simple errors in pass and movement for Scotland, which was reflected in the half time score of a 43 – 9 lead to England. A defensive second half and good interception skills improved Scotland’s performance, but was simply not enough to catch up with the opposition. England claimed their second victory that afternoon with a score of 81 – 24, with only Wales left to compete with on Sunday.
Knowing the home team were next to play, family and friends filtered in to build a supportive atmosphere. When the time arrived Northern Ireland and Wales were equally keen to win the 4pm game, showing great skill and determination from both sides. As the game progressed the score difference increased, proving too much for Northern Ireland to make a comeback and led to Wales winning 56 – 33.
After an evening of recovery and pre-celebratory meal, Northern Ireland arrived to Sundays 10am game ready to give every last effort against their rivals Scotland. An intense first quarter of equaliser goals kept a close gap to the score at the end of the first 15 minutes, 11 – 14 in favour of Scotland. Despite injury from the goal shooter in the second quarter, Scotland remained unfazed and maintained a lead to the finish with a second win of 47 – 31.
The final match, England v Wales, had full support from an electric audience as Wales tried their best to close the score gap with England in the first quarter. As the match progressed into the second quarter England were scoring goal after goal, diminishing any chance of Wales getting a shot of their own. With a final score of 18 – 88 to England, the tournament prediction became reality with England placing first overall. Scotland came second, followed by Wales in third and Northern Ireland in fourth.
Overall the tournament was a huge success and we thoroughly look forward to seeing how the teams progress in the lead up to the Netball World Youth Cup 2017 in Botswana.