National champions

Netballers pick up trophy

Bedfordshire were crowned national champions for the third time in their history after a 59-36 win over South Durham & Cleveland on Saturday, writes Heather Nolan.

Beds entered the game knowing that a win would secure the title after they beat main rivals Birmingham back in April.

Both sides started nervously as Heather Clarke struggled to find her shooting touch while South Durham's shooter Vicky Phillips appeared to have her eye in.

Despite their slow start, Beds managed to take advantage of some errors and had built up a three-goal lead at the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter started just as tentatively but the match seemed to change on a brilliant interception from Kim Flower.

From that point, Beds dominated the remainder of the quarter with Helene Lincoln converting nine out of her 11 attempts as the home side moved 31-19 ahead.

The third quarter was another tight affair but Beds' shooting was on target and their sterling defence maintained the advantage.

With one hand on the trophy, Beds brought on England U21 goalshooter Louisa Brownfield and her height and presence in the circle gave them the edge.

South Durham could not match their earlier efforts and Beds romped home, taking the quarter 15-7 and the match 59-36.

Coach Kendra Slawinski was delighted her side had played the match of their lives while fellow coach Maggie Jackson said: "The team has been the most consistent in the league and performed so well as a unit.

"Becoming national champions is the highest accolade the squad could achieve and they fully deserved it."

The next aim is to win the Inter Counties tournament in Middlesbrough next month.

Other results

2nd Open: Beds 50 South Durham 38.

U18: Beds 46 South Durham 16.

U16: Beds 41 South Durham 24.