Teenage Somerset handball players denied semi-final place after extra player claim
Somerset’s under-16 handball teams came away with plenty of positives after a day of drama and controversy at the national finals in Bolton.
The Smithills venue was packed to the rafters and the attendance of England talent scouts Chris McDermott and Mark Hawkins added to the occasion.
Players from Crispin School dominated the Somerset squads, with eight pupils lining up for the boys along with a trio from Westfield School in Yeovil in what proved to be a rollercoaster of emotions.
In the first game against Cheshire, Somerset were caught on the hop and given a masterclass in counter-attacking speed and flair by their opponents.
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Jordan Clark’s quick reactions in goal could not prevent the tournament favourites from storming to a 10-0 victory.
Somerset picked themselves up and put in an excellent performance to beat Surrey 4-2, with Jake Smart netting twice along with one each for Jamie Brown and James Cohen.
However, the jubilation of victory and qualification for the semi-finals was destroyed as witnesses from the sidelines reported that Somerset had fielded an extra player on court at one stage.
The referees had not spotted the error but officials decided that the game should be replayed and a deflated Somerset team were this time edged out 4-3, despite one goal from Smart and two from Harry Franks.
Somerset bounced back in fine style in the fifth-place play-off as captain Harry Dunlop netted a hat-trick in a 3-1 success against Kent.
Nine Crispin pupils were in the girls’ squad, including captain Megan Lintell and her deputy Charlie Fouracres, while Wells Blue School’s Poppy Anderson also featured.
Somerset faced four tough games against Essex, Greater Manchester, Sussex and Merseyside and their inexperience at this level was their only downfall.
Lintell was instrumental in attack for Somerset and got on the scoresheet, while Alicia Fouracres peppered some powerful shots on goal.
Charlie Fouracres and Huish Episcopi Academy’s Mahaela Wood made their presence felt in defence and Lucie Nurse in goal kept Somerset in sight of their opponents.
Chantel Pitman and Abbi Lockyer added strength in depth to the squad, who hope to come back stronger next year as all but two members are from Years 9 and 10.