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Stratford show plenty of promise with fifth-place finish





Back Row: Richard Pepperell (coach), Jessica Darling, Back row: Phillipa Mason, Rachel Browne, Jane McGovern (captain). Middle row: Caz Farris, Jessica Fox, Heather Britton, Rachel McGovern, Laura Middlemast. Front row: Rebecca Charles
Back Row: Richard Pepperell (coach), Jessica Darling, Back row: Phillipa Mason, Rachel Browne, Jane McGovern (captain). Middle row: Caz Farris, Jessica Fox, Heather Britton, Rachel McGovern, Laura Middlemast. Front row: Rebecca Charles

STRATFORD Ladies showed plenty of promise as they secured another fifth place finish at the second North East Midlands Ladies Touch tournament at Camp Hill on Sunday.

The team knew that this tournament was going to be tough and the draw made it just a little tougher still.

Each team had two rounds where they were not playing and the luck of the draw meant that Stratford’s two breaks were the last two of the day. Five matches in a row, with only a break of ten minutes, took its toll on the team.

The ten-strong squad was made up of four established players, four in only their second season and two that had played for the first time two weeks ago.

They took on Camp Hill, in third place after the first tournament, in the first match and held them to a 1-1 draw, with the try coming from Rebecca Charles.

Stratford then faced Old Laurentians, where their skills let them down. A disconnected defence let two tries in and with only one in return from a fantastic shimmy from Phillipa Mason, the game finished 2-1 to OLs.

Redditch were next up and Stratford were first on the scoresheet through good hands and teamwork putting Heather Britton over the line for her first try for the club. Another from captain Jane McGovern was not enough as Redditch eased to a 5-2 success.

After a ten-minute break for all teams, Stratford found themselves up against first-placed Wellesbourne.

Again, Stratford were able to cross the whitewash through Jessica Darling, but let too many in return, losing 3-1. It also resulted in the loss of Charles to an ankle injury.

Stratford left their best until last against Rugby St Andrews. With some fantastic team play and fast ball distribution, Rachel McGovern scored a brace. Britton added a third through some great individual skill to win the game 3-0.

Coach Richard Pepperell was left impressed with the team’s performance and felt that a fifth-place finish did not reflect the improvements in the rugby he saw being played.

“We looked dangerous with the ball throughout the tournament, which we haven’t always and our communication improved markedly,” he said.

“We have been working on this and have neglected defensive training a little, which we will work on. My main positive though was our team spirit and ethic. Every single team member worked hard.

“It is great to see they are a team now, playing for each other, desperate not to let the person next to you down. I am very proud of the squad for that — we are definitely going in the right direction.”

Player of the tournament went to new recruit Heather Britton, for looking dangerous in attack and showing a great improvement in just her second tournament.

Stratford travel to Ledbury for the next tournament on 20th May, which will be a full Midlands Ladies’ Touch Super Sunday.

New players to this growing team are always welcome. Training is at Stratford RFC on Tuesday nights from 7pm.



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