Wales powered to silver success during the Netball Europe Under-21 Championships in Worcester.
Wins against Northern Ireland and Scotland earned the Welsh team runners-up spot behind England.
Four players earned their first caps for Wales and they were Nia Evans, Carys Llewelyn, Erin Williams and Morganne Dunn, who studied and played at Richard Huish College in Taunton.
Wales made it a winning start to their Netball Europe campaign at the University of Worcester Arena with a 56-48 victory against Scotland..
Featuring a team full of young talent, Wales took to the court in confident mood and made a good start with defender Miquie Walker Jones winning an early tip to disrupt the Scottish attack.
Fellow defender Carys Allen showed great vision to fire turnover ball up the court on a couple of occasions.
The score, though, was 12-12 after the first quarter before, early in the second quarter, Wales broke the deadlock with Chloe Dyke and captain Shona O’Dwyer working the ball patiently to take full advantage of Wales’ defensive efforts.
Wales struggled to breach the Youth Thistles defence, but O’Dwyer showed fantastic vision to spot space wide on the wing give opportunities in the circle.
Scotland had chances of their own, but narrow misses gave Welsh defenders ammunition and the resulting counter-attacks were well-timed and clinical. Dunn and Georgia Jenkins took their chances – each in their own unique styles – and Wales had a 25-23 lead at the break.
Jenkins’ first shot of the second half rebounded awkwardly off the ring, but Jenkins was quick to react and win possession and sink it the second time.
Throughout the third quarter, unforced errors continued to plague Scotland and, while Wales were not flawless, the players were kept their composure.
Wales worked the ball up to Dunn under the post with disciplined regularity and, before long, the Welsh lead had grown significantly and while there was still lots to do, Wales looked comfortable with 15 minutes left to go.
Beca Hughes was sent on by Wales to inject pace and dynamism as the fourth quarter started.
What a weekend! Loved every minute of Netball Europe with @WelshNetball U’21s. To come away with the silver medal was amazing and a reflection of everyone’s hard work over the last year ❤️🏴 pic.twitter.com/o64ujLrkzw
— N¡a x (@NiaSerenEvans8) October 6, 2019
Thistles struggled to turn the ball over from Wales’ accurate passing game. Wales slowed things down near the end and maintained their advantage see out a classy victory in their opening match of the tournament.
Wales v Scotland quarter scores (Wales first): 12-12 (12-12); 13-11 (25-23); 16-10 (41-33); 15-15 (56-48)
Wales: M Dunn, G Jenkins, C Dyke, S O’Dwyer (capt), E Michael, C Allen, M Walker Jones. Bench: B Dyke, N Evans, B Johnson, C Llewellyn & E Williams.
England defeated Wales 56-28 in the second fixture and left the Welsh needing to beat Northern Ireland if they were to take silver.
They named the same starting seven who played well against Thistles and they were quickly into their 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 10 minutes Wales were into a lead with O’Dwyer powering up the court with turnover ball.
Wales’ shooting partnership maintained their excellent form with Dunn and Jenkins consistently finding the target.
With a solid centre pass platform, Wales were able to convert their own ball with ease, while at the other end Northern Ireland were forced by the Welsh defence to shoot from further out.
Ireland’s accuracy became an issue as a result and Wales were able to capitalise on rebounding balls.
A big moment came when Wales turned over an Ireland feed and the ball was launched up court. It looked certain to go out of play only for substitute Beca Hughes to tip it back into play for Dunn to convert.
At half-time, the Welsh youngsters nine goals ahead.
O’Dwyer powered the Welsh offence, while she was also relentless in defence.
Northern Ireland made substitutions, but there was no immediate impact with another great interception for Eleri Michael and continuation of Wales’ patient style of play.
Wales looked the fitter side as they passed 50 goals and kept their shape for the final minutes of the game to see out another impressive win.
It was heartening to see 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 v Northern Ireland quarter scores (Wales first): 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.