On Sunday 6 October, Wales Under 21 went into their final match of Netball Europe knowing that a win would likely see them take home a silver medal after a solid win over Scotland and a battling loss to hosts England.
It was the same starting seven that performed so well against the Young Thistles that returned to court for the third game and they were quick into stride, with WD Eleri Michael pressuring the NI feed and forcing a held ball. The defensive partnership of Miquie Walker Jones and Carys Allen were able to smother Northern Ireland in the circle and within ten minutes Wales were into a lead with captain Shona O’Dwyer powering up court with turnover ball.
Wales’ shooting partnership maintained their excellent form with Morganne Dunn and Georgia Jenkins consistently finding the target. With a solid centre pass platform Wales were able to convert their own ball with ease, meanwhile, at the other end of the court, Northern Ireland were being forced by the Welsh defence to shoot from further out. This meant that NI’s accuracy became a big issue and Wales could capitalise on rebounded balls. A great moment in the game came when Wales turned over a NI feed and the ball was launched up court. It looked certain to go out of play only for substitute Beca Hughes to fly up and tip it back into play for Dunn to convert the shot. At half time, the Welsh youngsters were well in control.
Northern Ireland were running out of options as the second half began as a chorus of obstruction calls went against them. As well as powering the Welsh attack, O’Dwyer was relentless in defence, tracking back to give the opposition a constant headache. NI made some substitutions but there was no immediate impact with another great interception for Eleri Michael and continuation of Wales’ patient style of play.
The last quarter did see some let up from Wales as Northern Ireland were able to string together some successive goals. Nevertheless, Wales looked the fitter side as they passed 50 goals in the match and kept their shape for the final minutes of the game to see out another impressive win. It was heartening to see such a strong travelling contingent of fans at the Worcester Arena and Wales received a standing ovation from fans and family as the full time whistle went.
Wales Netball would like to congratulate Wales Under 21 on winning silver at this year’s Netball Europe competition. All of the players have worked so hard in preparation for the tournament and a particular thanks goes to the voluntary management team for all that they have given to the squad.
Furthermore, Wales Netball would like to congratulate the four newly capped Under 21 players who made their debuts at this years competition: Nia Evans, Carys Llewelyn, Erin Williams and Morganne Dunn.
Quarter scores: 14-10 (14-10); 13-8 (27-18); 16-12 (43-30) 13-10 (56-40).
Wales Starting Seven: Morganne Dunn, Georgia Jenkins, Chloe Dyke, Shona O’Dwyer (Capt), Eleri Michael, Carys Allen and Miquie Walker-Jones. Bench: Beca Hughes, Erin Williams, Nia Evans, Carys Llewelyn and Bethan Johnson.