Year 8 Handball – North West Regional Finals

This from Miss Challinor:

“What an amazing day for the Wellington Handball teams! After months of hard work, both teams had battled and made it through to the North West regional finals. Winning this would mean the teams progress onto the National finals, playing against the 6 other regional winners. The boys had a daunting 6 games to play before the semi-finals, and the girls 3. All of which were nail biting games.

Game 1 for the boys’ team saw Wellington face Carr Hill High School. Wellington set their stall out from the first whistle, with what was to become a regular sight throughout the tournament with a tactical, defensive display, earning them a 4-2 victory. The girls had their first game against a strong Lymm team, who put us through our paces, but with great goal keeping from Ashley, and an unstoppable shot from Jemma, we were victorious. The girls second game was against a very strong Wright Robinson side who had 1 star player that stood out. During our game she managed to break down our defence on more than 1 occasion, which meant we lost 4-2. However, we took away important knowledge which would come in very handy later on in the tournament.

Games 2, 3 and 4 for the boys followed on from their first win, with scores of 5-1, 3-0 and 5-2 over Parrswood, Great Sankey and Garstang, respectively. Game 5, Wellington faced a favourite for the tournament, against Kings Leadership Academy. This would be a test for the defensive unit of Wellington, but as both teams traded blows Wellington were to be victorious with a 5-3 victory. This win shocked other spectators, with intimidated comments of the Wellington defence echoing the sports hall.  

The final round robin game for the boys saw Wellington face the only remaining unbeaten team of Newman RC College. Five straight wins meant a place in the semi-final was guaranteed, therefore tactics came into play. With the Wellington squad depleted with 8 players and 1 substitution, compared to the 14 players of other competing Schools, Mr Ives decided to rest star outlet of Max Nikou. The game was a hard fought, with both sides struggling to break each other down. Newman RC College took the game 1-0, finishing the group stage unbeaten and new favourites for the tournament. Wellington were frustrated but still positive, as they saw the full potential of the side they could play in the final.

The girls final game was against Parrswood- the only other school in the competition with male and female representatives. We stormed ahead in this game, with goals coming from 3 different players, and Ashley keeping another clean sheet. We were able to make substitutions throughout, so the majority of our 12 strong squad were able to play.

Wellington boys finished the group stage in second place, winning 5 out of 6 games, scoring 22 and conceding 9. The girls also finished their group stage in second place, meaning another clash against Parrswood would cement their place in the final.

The semi-final against Kings Leadership Academy. Diminished from the previous 5-3 loss, Kings Leadership started off slowly, allowing Wellington to dominate possession. Despite this, fatigue and apprehension of the semi-final played its part, only allowing a marginal 3-1 victory for Wellington. Battered and bruised, Wellington were within touching distance from the crown of North West Handball Champions. The girls put on another display of power and dominated their semi-final against Parrswood. Again, we won 6-0 with goals coming from Jemma, Sophie and Chloe. This meant the girls final was Wellington against Wright Robinson- a game that was bound to bring excitement and drama.

The boys’ final against tournament favourites Neman RC College. Revenge was on the cards, the boys were pumped up and raring to go. Newman RC College started off strong with a fine attacking display, but the ever standing wall of Wellington was held together, with an unbeatable Rory Jones making save after save. Newman opened the scoring 1-0, with a rare mistake at the back passing them the ball directly in front of goal. Time for Max Nikou and Ethan Steward to show off their fantastic shooting skills, with a goal each in quick succession. Wellington were in the lead, with Newman behind for the first time that day. Injury to Alex Stewart saw Wellington use their only substitution, but this did not phase them. With each player understanding their role and performing with the maturity of experienced Handball players. Physical battles took place throughout the game, which lead to a critical point of the game, penalty shot to Newman RC College. Up stepped man of the match Rory Jones, saving his second penalty of the day and showing his potential to impressed international spectators. Ethan Steward delivered the ‘knockout punch’ with a blistering top corner shot from a tight angle. The final whistle followed, Wellington victorious and crowned North West Champions with a 3-1 victory.

Then it was time for the girls final. After our defeat the Wright Robinson in the previous game, we had a score to settle. The girls knew what their job was, and how to execute it. A plan that worked! We went 1-0 up after showing brilliant attacking and defending plays from all the girls. A goal and a penalty did see Wright Robinson take a very short 2-1 lead, but our girls saw this as an opportunity to keep the game alive. The final score ended 2-2 after we managed to pull one back. We then went into the 5 minutes of extra time. Ellie had already taken a tumble whilst marking their best player so a quick substitute saw Izzy come on. Katy and Annabelle joined forces to make our defensive line unbreakable. With 25 seconds left Jemma also took a tumble and the girls were faced with the potential of a penalty shoot-out. However, Jemma was able to pick herself up and dribble past their defence and score an absolute screamer! The final whistle blew and our boys and girls swarmed the court as it was a double victory to Wellington.

Myself, Mr Ives and Miss Davies could not believe the attitudes of our students, who showed grace in defeat and victory, and never once stopped cheering each other on.

We now progress on to represent the North West in the National Under 13s handball tournament.

Well done everyone!”