BUDMOUTH College sent three teams to the Zonal finals of the National Schools Team Championships.

The Weymouth school competed against teams from Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Bristol for a place in the regional finals.

The boys’ under-16 team of Will Jolliffe, Ethan Gear, Tom Lydford and Jamie Blair, started their campaign against the joint favourites from Eggbuckland College in Plymouth which turned out to be the game of the day.

A 3-2 win for Blair was cancelled out when Jolliffe lost to Plymouth’s star player, Uther Kingdom. Lydford then lost his game 3-1 before Gear stepped up to level the score.

In the second round of matches, defeat to Blair and Jolliffe were cancelled out with Gear stepping up to the plate before Lydford kept his cool to secure a 4-4 tie. Budmouth were declared winners on countback by 17 legs to 16, before they recorded two much more routine victories over Bournemouth School for Boys and Haygrove School, Bridgwater to secure their place in the regional finals on March 5 in Bristol.

The girls’ under-16 team of Rosa Mckechnie, Jaimee Browne, Ella Stanton and Sophie Storey exceeded all expectations despite playing at this level for the first time.

They got off to a wonderful start as they demolished Haygrove 7-1 with Mckechnie leading the way with two victories.

Budmouth Girls then played Okehampton Community College, who were national under-13 champions two years ago. Despite a spirited performance, the class of the former champions shone through as they were outclassed in an 8-0 defeat.

A tense final match followed as the Budmouth Girls took on Bournemouth School for Girls who had beaten them earlier in the season. Mckechnie and Stanton both managed wins but the opposition surged into a 4-2 lead.

Remarkably, both Storey and Browne then showed real character to bring the match level at 4-4.

The Budmouth girls finished runners-up in the group and will progress to the Regional Finals on March 4 in Bournemouth.

The boys’ under-13 team, featuring Ben Howe, Jed Brackenridge, George Ackerley and Ted Paul were also new to this level but adapted seamlessly. They won their opening match 6-2 against the boys of St Laurence School from Bradford-on-Avon, before suffering two closely fought 5-3 defeats at the hands of Wellington School and QE Hospital School in Bristol.

In their final match, Budmouth lost 7-1 to group winners Bournemouth School for Boys. The Weymouth side were knocked out of the competition but can be encouraged by the fact they didn’t appear out of their depth in new surroundings.