DEFENDING rural Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) junior and senior netball champions, Denbigh High and Holmwood Technical, stayed on course to defend their titles with semi-final wins at Clarendon Park yesterday. Among the juniors, Denbigh had a convincing 40-29 win over Holmwood Technical, while Knox registered a close 30-27 win over Manchester High. In the seniors matchups, Holmwood got by Manchester High 44-42, while Titchfield booked their first finals appearance by last year’s beaten finalists, Denbigh, 40-36. The Carlene Graham Powell-coached Holmwood, the all-island champions, had to come from behind to get by a stubborn Manchester High. Showing no fear, the plucky Manchester took the initiative and led 10-8 after the first quarter. They maintained their two-goal advantage at the halfway mark, leading 20-18. The third quarter belonged to Manchester as they increased their lead by six going into the final quarter, with the score at 30- 24. However, with their title on the line and their experienced long-time coach taking crucial timeouts to break the flow of their opponents, a resilient Holmwood rallied to make another rural final. “We lost many of our players from last year and this finals appearance was new to most of these girls and we didn’t come out with the intensity I expected from them. But a win is a win and we are looking forward to the finals with Titchfield, who we will be playing in a final for the first time,” said Graham-Powell. Finally there After knocking at the door for several years, where they have been at the semi-final stage on a regular basis, Titchfield led from start to finish with quarterly scores of 9-8, 18-16, 28-24 before winning 40-36. Holmwood’s juniors were no match for Denbigh, despite making a good start. Denbigh led 10-9 after the first quarter, 23-15 at half-time and 31-21 after the third quarter. It was close going all the way between Knox and Manchester in the junior battle, as Knox led 9-7 after the first quarter, before their opponent drew level 11-11 at half-time. Knox went ahead 19-18 at the third quarter, before fighting it out for the narrow win. The finals will be played next Wednesday, but no venue has been decided.