STRATFORD Ladies were able to field a record 17 players when they successfully hosted their home Super Sunday tournament.
The honours went to South West Midlands teams Ledbury and Bredon who were winners and runners-up respectively at the stand-alone festival competition, which is held three times a season and features ten teams from the North East and South West Midlands Ladies Touch leagues competing in three pools for the Cup, Plate and Bowl.
Two of those teams were Stratford’s, who had a best-yet 17 players available. As the format of this competition is different, so was the hosts’ approach to selection and two evenly split squads were entered in terms of experience and skill.
Stratford Jaguars found themselves in a pool with Wellesbourne, Redditch and Woodrush. The latter were up first and they had no answer to Madeleine Rendell’s pace, allowing her in for a hat-trick. The Jaguars defence was not as organised as it has been and they conceded early in the second half, but Kat Lucas crossed for a try on the wing to seal a 4-1 win.
The lacklustre defence continued into the first half of the Wellesbourne match and three tries were conceded through poor coverage and communication and 3-0 was the final score.
Rendell and Lucas were again on the mark against Redditch to secure a 2-1 win which put the Jaguars into the play-offs for the second tier – the Plate – with Pershore and Camp Hill.
Stratford Pumas had Camp Hill and Bredon in the initial pools. It was a poor start against Camp Hill, which put them behind 2-0 early on, although they settled into the game and played some nice rugby.
Captain Rebecca Charles controlled the game well and Sally Clarke proved a calming influence throughout. Rhiannon Ridgway used some excellent footwork to score a try and nearly brought the Pumas level with the last play of the game, only to get the lightest of touches when she looked certain to score and the Pumas were beaten 2-1.
The match against Bredon followed the same pattern as the Pumas went 2-0 down before a try from Ridgway gave them hope, but again they lost 2-1.
These results put the Pumas in the play-off for the third tier – the Bowl – with Redditch and Old Laurentians.
After the break, Stratford Jaguars took on Camp Hill, who had only lost out on a place in the top tier play-off in a ‘drop-off’ against Bredon. Camp Hill’s ability to create scores within the five-yard line put the Jaguars 2-0 down and, although Rendell reduced the arrears, the Jaguars lost 2-1.
Pershore were next up and Stratford went behind before Rendell equalised and in the second half Caz Farris exploited a two-on-one to dive over for the winning score to seal fifth place.
The Pumas returned to action against Redditch and were beaten 2-0 but ended on a winning note to clinch eighth place thanks to tries from Ridgway and Heather Britton which earned a 2-0 success.
Stratford players of the tournament were Ridgway for the Pumas for her excellent line speed and creative options and rookie Michelle Johnson for the Jaguars whose understanding of the game is improving rapidly.