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LEEDS FULFIL THEIR DESTINY TO WIN YNPL GRAND FINALS

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The ENG Youth Netball Premier League finals, a pinnacle of the netball calendar, is now in its fourth season. This event showcases the league's growth and rising prominence, making it one of the No.1 events in the youth netball calendar.

 

The ENG U13 YNPL Grand Finals was still the only age group in which a team that had won the league never went on to win the Grand Finals. Would that all change in this event?

Quarter Finals

Oldham took on Shan in the ENG U13 YNPL Grand Finals opening game. After a solid end to the season, Oldham finished second in their league, with Shan finishing third. No Oldham team had never been defeated at this competition stage, but that would change after Shan produced a masterclass performance.

 

Shan started the game confidently, which is rare when playing on a team like Oldham. They took control and raced into an incredible 10-3 lead after the first quarter after restricting Oldham from playing their game, cutting their feeds, and forcing errors throughout. The watching audience was stunned but knew there would be some comeback due to Oldham's mentality. As the second quarter progressed, that comeback never materialized as the Shan defense constantly shut down the Oldham attacks. Oldham tried everything to get back into the game, but nothing seemed to work as Shan continued to dominate the game. In the end, Shan won the game convincingly, which sent out a warning to others teams who potentially might play them.

 

The other quarter-finals were less unpredictable, with Sutton Town cruising past an understrength Grangetown side, Leeds Athletic defeating Magic despite a good start from the Sussex-based side, and Turnford winning comfortably against YWCA Bury.

 

Results

Shan NC (29) Vs Oldham NC (15)

Sutton Town (37) Vs Grangetown (5)

Turnford NC (27) Vs YWCA Bury (17)

Leeds Athletic (30) Vs Magic NC (14)

 

Semi-Finals

After their giant-killing exploits, Shan faced the Southern Conference champions, Sutton Town. Shan had already beaten Sutton Town in the league, but it would be another challenging game for the South London side, with Sutton Town the favourites to proceed.

 

The game started evenly matched, with both sides playing well and canceling each other out. With the game a draw after the first quarter, the second quarter continued in the same fashion as the first, mirroring each other's performance. A pivotal moment within the quarter came at the very end. Shan finally forced a turnover and went ahead by one point, and then scored off the centre pass to go two points ahead before the end of the break. This moment would be pivotal in the outcome of the game. As the third quarter began, Sutton Town struggled to break down the Shan center pass and to sustain their attacks with feeds and misplaced shots hampering their ability to win the game. Shan ran up a six-point lead going into the final quarter. The final eight minutes saw Shan see out the game, and they claimed their first appearance in the YNPL Final.

 

Turnford lost out on winning the league title after being pipped to the post by Sutton Town, but they have made incredible improvement throughout the season and had the opportunity to show how much progress they've made when they took on the Northern Conference champions Leeds Athletic. Leeds have made huge strides forward by winning their league and being the favourites to win this tournament. They also wanted to make up for last season's defeat in the final.

 

Both teams started well, and Turnford took an early lead; Leeds steadied the ship and took a one-goal lead into the second quarter. From then on, Leeds went from strength to strength in the second quarter and dominated every aspect of the game. It was a disappointing performance by Turnford, who knew they could have done better after such a fantastic season. Leeds made their second successive final, and in their way was Shan for the U13 YNPL title.

 

5th-8th Playoffs

Oldham NC (33) Vs Grangetown NC (15)

YWCA Bury (20) Vs Magic NC (15)

 

3rd/4th Playoff

It was a disappointing end to a good season for Turnford in this 3rd-4th playoff game. They never got going against Sutton Town and looked to have a hangover from the Leeds Athletic defeat. Sutton Town, though, achieved its highest-ever position in this competition as a team and club to cap off a good season for the Midlands-based side.

 

Result

Sutton Town (21) Vs Turnford NC (11)

 

7th-8th Playoff

Magic NC (28) Vs Grangetown NC (20)

 

5th-6th Playoff

Oldham NC (26) Vs YWCA Bury (14)

 

Final

After a flawless season, Leeds Athletic took on Shan NC in the final of the U13 YNPL Grand Final. Even though Shan had played superbly coming into this game, it was still going to be a tough task to take down the Yorkshire giants.

 

As the game began, Shan replicated the same opening quarter performance they produced against Oldham, racing into a 6-1 lead. Leeds needed to keep calm, and not allow Shan too much success when they were in such ruthless form. Unlike Oldham, as we reached the back end of the first quarter, the calmness of Leeds allowed them to get back into the tie, going in after the first quarter only 7-5 down.

 

The second quarter saw Leeds Athletic level the tie, but Shan showed great character to force some turnovers in the mid-court and then establish their two-point lead again. Leeds Athletic once again didn't panic and scored a goal at the buzzer to end the quarter only a point behind.

 

Leeds Athletic knew the third quarter would be crucial, and they started it by turning over the Shan centre pass and quickly scoring their centre pass to establish a lead for the first time in the game. This now put Shan under pressure to hold their centre pass, which they failed to do with the Leeds defence reading the feeds into the shooters. Leeds were now pushing through the gears with their engine in the mid-court. Grace Fishburn was dictating the play, and their shooters, Harriet Fuller and Nellie Carney were ruthless under the post. As the quarter ended, Leeds found themselves seven points ahead, and Shan had a mountain to climb.

 

Leeds Athletic's journey started a few years ago when they showed potential in our U11 Netball Cup competition. Over the past two years, their rise from having potential to becoming the No.1 team in the country has been incredible to watch. In the final eight minutes of the game, Leeds maintained their lead, and they fulfilled their destiny of becoming the YNPL National Champions. What a journey for these players who, along with their coaching team, have shown what can be achieved when everyone is focussed on the same outcomes.

 

Result

Leeds Athletic (31) Vs Shan NC (18)

 

MVP: Grace Fishburn (Leeds Athletic)

 

All-Stars: Libby Scott (Grangetown), Luccia Higgins (YWCA Bury), Coco Harrison-Taylor (Magic NC), Ava Bennett (Sutton Town), Harriet Fuller (Leeds Athletic), Josephine De Mol (Shan NC), Annabell Lama (Oldham NC), Isabella Gibson (Turnford NC)

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