New-look Stratford Ladies secure fifth-place finish

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Stratford smile for the camera at Pinley. Back row, Laura Middlemast, Heather Britton, Lauren Buchanan, Becki Coombe, Rachel Browne, Julie Allison, David Hitchins (coach), front row, Caz Farris, Jess Fox, Jessie Darling, Jane McGovern (c), Rachel McGovern.

STRATFORD secured a solid fifth-place finish in their first North East Midlands tournament of the season at Pinley on Sunday.

Five new players made their debuts as Stratford competed with seven other teams for league positions.

Stratford trailed early on in their opening match against Pinley 2nds, before hitting back to claim victory with scores from Rachel McGovern, skipper Jane McGovern and Rachel Browne.

This was a harder fought contest with Stratford conceding early again. However, this time fatigue and some panic set in and despite a try for Browne, Stratford suffered a 2-1 defeat.

Stratford then faced last season’s winners Redditch, losing 2-0, despite holding Redditch for 11 minutes of the 14-minute match.

The team found themselves in the fifth and sixth place play-off against Pinley.

Stratford went two tries down but showed their mettle to level through R McGovern and Browne.

Further tries from J McGovern and debutant Jessie Darling sealed a 4-2 win and fifth place.

Coach, David Hitchins, said: “Every member of the squad tried their hardest and displayed some really encouraging passages of play.

“The squad just need to work on not rushing or forcing moves and tries. The best rugby came when the players hit the line hard and ran at pace yes, but also took the time to make the right decisions.”

Player of the tournament, as decided by the coach, was debutant Becki Coombe for her work-rate in both defence and attack.