The pool matches were all against opposition from the SW Midlands league and the 10 strong squad opened their first match against the hosts, Luctonians 1. Some excellent defensive work and interceptions by Rachel McGovern and strong attacking options from Jessie Darling were on display. The breakthrough came following a good team move resulting in Rhiannon Ridgway scoring in the corner. Stratford opening with a 1-0 victory.
The next pool match was against a strong opposition and the current holders of the Super Sunday trophy, Ledbury. The first half saw strong defensive work from Stratford debutante Cara Finn and Becki Coombe and in attack. The team were led well by Captain Charles and McGovern who orchestrated the move which allowed Ridgway to score. A 1-0 lead at half time was well deserved, however Ledbury struck back quickly in the second half with two scores in succession, a position which Stratford could not recover from.
The final pool match saw Stratford up against a determined side in Bredon 2. Stratford dominated possession but handling errors saw a number of opportunities go astray until Kat Lucas used her speed to break their defence and make the breakthrough score. This was followed up by another score by Ridgway. Final score 2-0.
The pool results saw Stratford placed in the Plate competition (2nd tier) against teams from Woodrush and Ross on Wye. The first match was against Woodrush and Stratford really upped their tempo to put Woodrush under a lot of pressure. Captain, Charles spearheaded the attack and executed a lovely training ground move to break their defence to open the score. This was followed shortly by an excellent individual effort by Charles to break through again and make it 2-0. Stratford kept the tempo high and Hollie Fletcher used a lovely step and turn of speed to race through from the half way line to score an excellent try. With the match wrapped up, the team exploited a retreating Woodrush defence and Ridgway scored again in the corner to make it 4-0.
The final match of the day was against Ross on Wye and Stratford were determined to put in a strong performance and get a result. The game was evenly balanced but after some consistent defence a momentarily lapse saw Ross open the scoring. Stratford worked hard to get back in the game with Julie Allison and Caz Farris routinely making metres and creating some good attacking opportunities. Stratford continued to push hard and their efforts were rewarded in the dying minutes when Ridgway was able to use her pace on the outside and level the scores 1-1.
Stratford ended the overall tournament in equal 4th place but narrowly missed out on winning the Plate, based on the number of tries scored in the pool matches. Stratford’s player of the tournament was Ridgway for scoring in every game they played.
New coach, Smith, said afterwards ‘I really enjoyed today. I was immensely proud of all 10 of them. Whichever six were on the field there were very positive performances from all of them. There are a few things we now need to work on in training.’
The next fixture will be a league event held at Woodrush RFC on 29th March. Stratford Ladies train at Stratford RFC on Tuesday nights from 7-8:30 and new players are always welcome.
Back Row: Jon Tarrant, Cara Finn, Rhiannon Ridgway, Rebecca Charles (C), Julie Allison, Becki Coombe, Rachel McGovern, Lola and Elliot Smith (mascot and coach)
Front Row: Hollie Fletcher, Caz Farris, Jessie Darling, Kat Lucas (with Ruby)