A GREAT, if gruelling, day for St Monica’s RC High School saw the under-16 netball team take the national championship.

The team had played two tough qualifying rounds and to reach the finals, which were held in Hertfordshire, was an achievement in itself.

But, while many will feel it is the taking part that counts, the St Monica’s girls flew the flag for Prestwich in great style and, after an exhausting day’s play, went unbeaten in their 10 matches to bring home the crown.

The extreme weather conditions did not dampen their spirits and, with some amazing netball through the group stages, they came through eight games with seven wins and one draw.

They opened the day with a 10-2 victory over Bedford High and followed it up with a 10-7 win against Bramcote.

Their most emphatic victory came at the expense of Durham High, who they beat 17-5.

An exciting 8-8 draw against Guildford followed, but they got back to winning ways as they saw off Marlborough 8-1.

The girls from the Bury Old Road school then had an 11-9 victory over Hurstpierpoint College and rounded off an impressive group stage by beating Higham Lane 10-3 and Leeds Grammar School 11-9.

Unbeaten in the group round-robin, St Monica’s progressed to the semi-finals after finishing top of their table.

In the final four they played a very strong team in Woodhouse Grove.

After a long day, the girls showed great fitness, determination, skill and ability to overcome them 11-8 and book their place in the final.

Their opponents, Streatham and Clapham, were also hugely talented and the match-up led to an extremely tense final.

The first half was close with the score going with the centre passes.

St Monica’s trailed 5-4 at half time but a quite brilliant second-half performance saw them score nine points to their opponents’ four, meaning a 13-9 victory and the national netball title.

The victorious squad was India Holland, Laura Wood, Caitlin Sharkey, Tiye Prince Owens, Emily Kelly, Molli Pearce, Olivia Bagguley, Eve Strickland and Lydia Czernenko.