Peebles go for gold in national schools finals

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THE past few weeks have seen quarter and semi-final matches played out the length and breadth of the country as the cream of Scotland’s school netball teams battle it out for places in the finals.

And Borders sides have emerged amongst the elite with representation in no fewer than three of the eight finals (four in the gold section and four in the plate section) that are to be played out at Edinburgh’s Meadowbank Stadium this week.

Top of the crop is Peebles, the only school in Scotland to have secured two gold final places.

Last year’s S2 champions, Peebles S3s, have once again made it through the toughest of draws to reach the final game against Paisley’s St Andrew’s Academy.

Through their qualifying matches they have faced all three of the other semi-finalists from last season, and won their quarter-final on a golden goal against last year’s finalists.

Peebles S1s may have had an easier ride into the finals, but will need to be in top form to take on what has been heralded this year as a superb outfit from Arbroath High School.

The Tweeddale school’s S2 and senior teams only narrowly failed to reach the finals.

The S2s went out by only four goals to Hyndland, playing away in the semi-finals. The senior team performed magnificently to go out again by four goals in their quarter-final, again playing away from home to Hamilton’s Holycross, and having led for most of the hour-long match.

Two other Borders schools entered teams in the Scottish Schools’ Cup for the first time this year, and both have also excelled.

After qualifying matches, Earlston High School S1s made it to the gold section of the cup and were unlucky to be defeated in the knockout stages by St Margaret’s of Airdrie by only one goal in the final minutes of their second round match.

Berwickshire High School’s S1s were placed in the plate section, and have gone from strength to strength, proceeding through the entire knockout stages to gain a place in the final.

With Aitken Turnbull Border League winners Peebles and runners-up Berwickshire finding themselves in the gold and plate finals respectively, the value of the new league in promoting high-standard performance and experience is very clear.

Two local umpires make their debut at national level on finals day.

Coaches/umpires Linda Nicholson (Peebles) and Karen McKinlay (Berwickshire) have both been named by Netball Scotland in the umpiring team.

Nicholson will be supported by Peebles team manager Lynn Hudson, with Terry MacEachen and Mandy Lunn both involved alongside McKinlay in coaching team Berwickshire.