Team Bath U21s NPL squad with their silver medals
Silver linings-Netball Sports Scholars finish runners up in the Netball Performance League (NPL) final tournament with Team Bath U21s
University of Exeter Netball Sports Scholars and Exeter Netball Club players, Hannah Blackman (BSc Criminology) and Christina Shaw (BSC Biological Sciences) were part of the Team Bath NPL U21 squad who took home the silver medal in a dramatic final NPL tournament in Nottingham.
Having finished 3rd in the NPL league this year, just missing out on 2nd place due to goal difference Team Bath U21s had their eyes set on making the final. Drawn in Group A alongside Loughborough Lightning, Manchester Thunder and Surrey Storm, Team Bath opened their tournament against Surrey Storm. Team Bath got over the line with a 4 goal win (54-50) in a tight encounter, with Exeter’s Christina Shaw making her 1st appearance in the tournament coming off the bench into the GK position. Next up Team Bath faced Manchester Thunder and this game delivered everything it promised with Team Bath trailing for majority of the match but showing huge resilience and determination to find a 1 goal advantage in the dying moments and steal the win. Still needing to perform against Loughborough Lightning to secure top spot in the group Team Bath regrouped and put in an assured performance against Loughborough to win 56-41. Finishing top of Group A Team Bath secured a semi-final match up with Wasps.
Clinical from the starting whistle Team Bath were unstoppable against Wasps and finished the game with an 84-40 score line in the favour. Exeter’s Hannah Blackman took her opportunity at GS and moved out to GA for the final quarter, shooting at over 90% whilst on court. Setting up a repeat of the earlier 1 goal thriller against Manchester Thunder for the final Team Bath started brightly and jumped out to a 7 goal lead but Thunder clawed their way back into the game to take the lead in the final stages of the last quarter and take the tournament title.
Reflecting on her final NPL tournament Christina Shaw commented “After competing in the NPL competition for 5 seasons it was so pleasing to end my final tournament on such a high! The team and management were fantastic across the 5 days and to get ourselves into the final was testament to this. To compete against the best teams in England and narrowly miss out on gold was also a huge learning for us as a team”.
Hannah Blackman added “Although it was tough to lose such a close final, I am so happy to finish 5 years of competing in NPL as vice-captain for Team Bath U21s and to come away with a silver medal. I’m so proud of the team’s effort and hard work over the entire season but especially during the tournament. I’m looking forward to returning to Exeter to continue to build upon this success and channel it into the BUCS and Regional leagues”.
With the 2017-2018 season now finished Christina’s main focus turns to gaining a spot in the Wales U21 Netball Europe competition squad that will be competing in October, as well as working towards upcoming Wales Senior Squad selections. For Hannah the start of the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) season and Netball South West Regional League is exciting with both teams looking for promotion into the respective Premier Leagues.
Team Bath NPL also competed in the U17 and U19 age groups at the NPL tournament with a number of athletes from the University of Exeter based Team Bath Academy, coached by University of Exeter Head of Netball Denise Ellis were represented. For the U17s Sophie Orchard, Sophie Ewin, Meg Connabeare, Rosie Bartlett and Isla May, with Sophie Orchard and Sophie Ewin having represented the Exeter Netball Club Regional 3 side this year. In the U19s captain Hannah Barnes, Charlie Plumridge and Rachael Fee made up the Exeter contingent, all who also are part of Exeter Netball Club. The partnership between Team Bath Netball franchise and University of Exeter helps support talented netballers including University of Exeter students to access the netball performance pathway in the South West.
Date: 24 July 2018