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Hard work pays off for North West Tigers as they clinch U14 Boys’ Inter-Regional title

North West Tigers ensured that their hard work paid off as they clinched this year’s U14 Boys’ Inter-Regional Championships title.

After securing the bronze medal in 2022, the Tigers improved their standing this time around to earn a rewarding victory at the Walsall Gala Baths.

They were undefeated throughout the competition, drawing just one match with London Sharks in the group stage and winning the remaining three against South East, East Midlands and Ireland.

Those results saw them amass a total of seven points – enough to top Group A and face off against the Group B runners-up and last year’s winners, West Midlands Warriors, in the semi-final.

A confident 10-4 triumph saw them through to the gold medal match where they would face Ireland, who found themselves in the final yet again after a 5-1 victory over South West Sharks in their semi-final.

Having beaten Ireland 10-5 during the group stage fixtures, the Tigers were the favourites and after scoring seven goals and conceding just two, they got their hands on the trophy.

The North West side scored five unanswered goals thanks to an early hat-trick from Andrew Stephenson and two from Sam Hewitt.

Carter McMillan later added his name to the scoresheet before Stephenson converted for the fourth time to round off an impressive display in the final.

Grew in confidence

The Tigers scored a total of 53 goals throughout the competition and their head coach, Meritxell Escoda Manzano, was pleased to see her side grow and improve across the two days.

She said: “I am delighted that the hard work of the North West team has paid off.

“This was my first time coaching the U14 regional team and the boys have trained hard in the lead up to this competition.

“Our squad had a few experienced players, but for most this was their first time in this sort of competition, so I was delighted to see how they developed and grew in confidence throughout the weekend.

“As a national Spanish player and now a coach, I used my experience together with my assistant coach, Seb Long, to drill the importance of technique and a good understanding of playing tactically and this approach worked well.

“I was also thrilled that Andrew Stephenson was awarded MVP of the tournament and Logan Matthewson awarded top goalkeeper.’’

North West Tigers captain, Jude Eagling, added: “I was honoured to captain the North West U14 team.

“We knew the competition would be tough, but everyone in the team gave 100 per cent in training, listened to our coaches and embraced the hard work to make sure we were as prepared as we could be.

“Although it was hard work, it was also great fun!”

Fabulous event

South West Sharks earned a narrow 5-4 win over the West Midlands Warriors on their way to topping Group B, but the Warriors were the victors as the two sides met again in the bronze medal match, with the score finishing 8-6.

That match saw another stand-out performance, with Darius Tabirta scoring half of his side’s goals to help the Warriors secure the win, the last of which came with just 22 seconds to go.

Also on the scoresheet for the team from the West Midlands was Bailey Lane with two goals and a goal each for Samson Riesner and Joel Perkins.

The six goals for the Sharks were scored by Toby C-Y, with four, and Will Mock, with two.

Presenting the awards and medals this year was Ian Mackenzie, chairperson of the Swim England Water Polo Leadership Group, and Jenny Pearson, West Midlands region president.

The competition organiser, Joanne Mountfield, expressed thanks to those involved with the event.

She said: “Thank you to Ian and Jenny for presenting the awards and to Ally Whike for supporting the event and meeting with the volunteers.

“Also thanks to the West Midlands region, including the event manager, Debbie Arthur, and her team of volunteers, for hosting another fabulous event for more than 120 players.”

MVP Awards

  • Andrew Stephenson (North West Tigers)
  • Dominic O’Neill Cuadros (London Sharks)
  • Ethan Buckley (East Midlands)
  • Matthew Collier (South East)
  • Jamie Francis (East)
  • Ruan Delport (South West Sharks)
  • Bailey Lane (West Midlands Warriors)
  • Alex Armada (North East Steelers)
  • Luka Sablic (Ireland)
  • Andrew Coulson (Scotland)

Event Awards

(sponsored by Wyvern Swimwear)

  • Top Goalkeeper: Logan Matthewson (North West Tigers)
  • Top Goalscorer: Thomas Forrest (North East Steelers)
  • Overall MVP Award: Andrew Stephenson (North West Tigers)

Fixtures

South East
4
4 – 8
8
North West Tigers
FT
London Sharks1212 – 77East MidlandsFT
North East Steelers1111 – 77EastFT
South West Sharks55 – 44West Midland WarriorsFT
Ireland33 – 11London SharksFT
East Midlands22 – 88South EastFT
West Midland Warriors88 – 55North East SteelersFT
Scotland Saltires55 – 55South West SharksFT
East Midlands22 – 1111North West TigersFT
Ireland66 – 11South EastFT
West Midland Warriors77 – 11EastFT
Scotland Saltires1111 – 66North East SteelersFT
London Sharks77 – 77North West TigersFT
South West Sharks1818 – 44EastFT
West Midland Warriors77 – 44Scotland SaltiresFT
Ireland55 – 1010North West TigersFT
South East11 – 99London SharksFT
North East Steelers44 – 1212South West SharksFT
Scotland Saltires1010 – 33EastFT
East Midlands44 – 1414IrelandFT

Group A

Group A Team
P
W
D
L
GD
Pts
North West Tigers4310187
Ireland4301126
London Sharks4211115
South East4103-112
East Midlands4004-300

Group B

Group B Team
P
W
D
L
GD
Pts
South West Sharks4310237
West Midland Warriors4301116
Scotland Saltires421195
North East Steelers4103-122
East4004-310

Play-Off Stage

Semi Finals
North West Tigers1010 – 44West Midlands WarriorsFT
South West Sharks11 – 55Ireland FT
9th-10th Play-offs
East Midlands 77 – 44EastFT
7th-8th Play-offs
North East Steelers 88 – 66South EastFT
5th-6th Play-off
London1313 – 22Scotland FT
Bronze Medal Match
West Midlands Warriors 88 – 66South West SharksFT
Final
North West Tigers77 – 22IrelandFT


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