STRATFORD Ladies secured wins in three of their four matches to finish fourth in the third round of the North East Midlands Ladies Touch League at Camp Hill on Sunday.
The most teams so far this season (nine) signed up to compete so a three-team, three-pool format was played. Stratford fielded the maximum squad of 14 players for the first time this season including a further two debutants in Hollie Fletcher and Michelle Johnson and they also gave a welcome return to Sharon Quantrill for her first tournament in 2019.
First up in the pool games was Rugby St Andrews and Stratford were able to cross the whitewash six times through captain Jane McGovern, vice-captain Jessie Darling, Rhiannon Ridgway (2) and Rachel McGovern (2) and keep a clean sheet in the process.
Camp Hill were able to field two squads for this tournament and one of those were up next for Stratford. Some textbook training park moves and another try for speedster Ridgway were not enough to offset the two lapses in defence which allowed Camps to secure a 2-1 triumph.
That one-try difference in score put Stratford in second place in the pool and so was the difference between competing for first to third place or fourth to sixth.
The Stratford squad were determined to make that fourth spot theirs and had to face the second Camp Hill team and Old Laurentians.
Stratford went 1-0 down against Camps but responded through a fine team try finished by Becki Coombe on the wing.
Rachel Browne continued to provide solid options and running rugby and Sally Clarke worked hard in defence, which all built to a second half break through the defence in the middle of pitch for Caz Farris to seal a 2-1 win.
The Old Laurentians match was a hard-fought game and the referee complemented the teams on the pace at which it was played.
Julie Allison and Lisa Connolly impressed in defence and Stratford grabbed the only try through Kat Lucas to clinch a 1-0 victory and fourth place.
Stratford’s player of the tournament was Connolly for her workrate and solid defence. Coach Richard Pepperell said: “We fielded the most players we have ever taken to a tournament. We looked creative in attack and were able to score in every game.
“When we did play with structure, we were hard to beat. Bar a couple of lapses in concentration, which we will work on, defence was awesome. The ladies only conceded three tries in four games, with two of those games being clean sheets. They should be nothing but proud of themselves.”
The next league tournament is on June 9 at Redditch before the Super Sunday is held at Stratford on June 30. All new players are always welcome.