STRATFORD Ladies Touch Rugby Club fielded the maximum squad of 14 players on their way to finishing fourth in the third round of the North East Midlands Ladies Touch League held at Camp Hill RFC.
Stratford also included two further debutants in Hollie Fletcher and Michelle Johnson while Sharon Quantrill made a welcome return for her first tournament of 2019.
First in the pool games was Rugby St Andrews and Stratford were able to cross the whitewash six times, with Rhiannon Ridgway (2), Rachel McGovern (2), captain Jane McGovern and vice-captain Jessie Darling bagging the tries.
Testament to the development of the league and game of ladies touch rugby in the Midlands over the last few seasons, hosts Camp Hill were able to field two squads for the tournament and one of those squads were up next for Stratford.
Some textbook training-park moves, and another try for speedster Ridgway, were unfortunately not enough to offset the two lapses in defence that allowed Camp Hill through.
That one try difference in score put Stratford in second place in the pool and was the difference between competing for first to third or fourth to sixth.
The Stratford squad were determined to make fourth spot their own and had to face the second Camp Hill team and Old Laurentians to do so.
Stratford went 1-0 down to Camp Hill, but they did not let their heads drop and responded with a well-worked try from Becki Coombe on the wing.
They trusted their game play and their skills and came straight back after the restart with a team worked try for Becki Coombe on the wing.
Rachel Browne continued to provide solid options and running rugby and Sally Clarke working hard in defence, and this all built to a second-half break through the defence in the middle of pitch for Caz Farris to give Stratford their second try and the win.
The Old Laurentians match was a hard-fought game, the ref even complimented the teams on the pace at which it was played.
Julie Allison and Lisa Connolly were the stand-out defenders and Kat Lucas was the only person to score to give Stratford the narrow win and secure fourth place.
Stratford’s player of the tournament was Connolly for her work rate 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, the defence were 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 Sunday, 9th June at Redditch RFC and the next Super Sunday takes place at Stratford RFC on Sunday, 30th June.