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Ladies claim fifth in first league tournament of season





Back row: Richard Pepperell (coach), Jane McGovern (captain), Bec Charles, Alice Mercer, Becki Coombe, Julie Allison, Rachel Browne, Rhiannon Ridgway, Jessica Fox. Front row: Heather Britton, Jessie Darling, Laura Middlemast, Caz Farris, Sally Clarke, Rachel McGovern.
Back row: Richard Pepperell (coach), Jane McGovern (captain), Bec Charles, Alice Mercer, Becki Coombe, Julie Allison, Rachel Browne, Rhiannon Ridgway, Jessica Fox. Front row: Heather Britton, Jessie Darling, Laura Middlemast, Caz Farris, Sally Clarke, Rachel McGovern.

STRATFORD Ladies Touch Rugby Club's consistency and creativity guided them to a fifth place finish in the first league tournament of the season at Old Laurentians RFC.

They took one of the biggest squads yet to a tournament, with a second debutante of the season in rugby-novice Alice Mercer. It was great to see that, whichever six of the squad were on the pitch, the basic skills were solid and the work done in training on attacking and defensive moves was put into practice.

The first match was against tournament hosts and Stratford went ahead in the first half with a fabulous run in from team Rachel Browne. A rare lapse in defence let the opposition straight back in after the restart. A run through for Caz Farris nearly resulted in a try, but it was deemed to be caught on the line so the match finished in the draw.

Next up were Atherstone, one of two new teams to the NE Midlands Ladies Touch League this year. The defence was outstanding, with the solid coverage of Laura Middlemast and Bec Charles in the centre.

Stratford put three tries over in the first half, nearly four as Sally Clarke’s run was ended just on the try line. Four further beautifully worked team tries were scored in the second half.

All seven tries came from seven different players, with one each for captain Jane McGovern, Becky Coombe, Julie Allison, Heather Britton, Jessie Darling, Rachel McGovern and a second of the day for Browne.

The last pool match was against Camp Hill which ended with Stratford narrowly losing 2-1, despite a great second try for McGovern. As Camp Hill had also drawn with Old Laurentians, Stratford cruelly found themselves in the 5th/6th place play-off against Woodrush, the second new team to the league.

Stratford continued to improve and finished by playing their best rugby of the day, with a very dominant 4-0 performance. First honours went to Rhiannon Ridgway. There was nearly a debut try for Mercer too, but for the short dead ball area catching her out. One more for Darling and a brace for Browne brought the total up.

Coach Richard Pepperell said: "The was the best I had seen the squad play as a whole - trying things, playing with confidence, creativity and showing some real game awareness.

"Thirteen tries for and three tries against is an amazing statistic and credit to the work done in training.

"Player of the tournament was Rachel Browne for her work rate in attack, resulting in four of the team’s 13 tries of the day."

The next league tournament is at Redditch on 7th April, after which there is a small break in competition until Camp Hill on the 19th May.

Training continues at Stratford RFC every Tuesday night at 7pm.



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