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Rural Netball Finals On Today At Manchester High
Richard Bryan, Gleaner Writer
Surprise team Fogo Road High will meet Holmwood Technical in the Digicel-ISSA rural senior netball final today at Manchester High in Mandeville.
The feature match is slated for 12:30 p.m., but the day's action actually begins at 10:30 a.m. with the playing of the junior third-place play-off between Knox College and Edwin Allen High. The junior final between a resurgent St Elizabeth Technical and Denbigh High is set for 11:30 a.m., followed by the battle between losing semi-finalists Manchester High and Denbigh for third and fourth in the seniors section.
The focus is likely to be on first-time finalists Fogo Road who, except for a quarter-final placing last year in the juniors, are virtual unknowns. The school, which was only upgraded to secondary-high level six years ago, made gradual progress through the rounds, but little was made of their 32-30 win over Knox in the quarter-finals. They, however, went on to create the real shocker of the competition so far, defeating last year's beaten finalists Denbigh. Quite interestingly, Denbigh, the 2010 champions, had beaten them 26-19 when the two met in May Pen-based preliminary-zone action.
Their coach, Nicole Mais-Bennett, said their victory over Denbigh was the result of doing good homework, and they followed the same path in their preparation for Holmwood.
"We are very excited now but we know we have work to do," she told The Gleaner.
It will certainly take more than enthusiasm to frighten or upstage a Holmwood team that flattened the preseason favourites Manchester 37-24 in the semi-finals. Manchester had won a creditable junior club league in Clarendon three months ago, and are believed to possess the best all-round player at this level, April Thompson. They had also netted the highest score of goals in the quarter-finals in spanking Frome 65-26. Despite Manchester's early lead in the first quarter, Holmwood's more all-round and organised approach put them in charge and to claim a convincing victory.
Having won her semi-final game a few minutes earlier, long-standing Holmwood coach, Carlene Graham-Powell, took a look at Fogo Road but sounded a warning.
"We came expecting Manchester to give us their best game and they did, but the experience of Holmwood should never be taken lightly. We work hard and we are the fittest team in the competition, so anybody who is going to come and take our title has to come good," she said.