STRATFORD Ladies made a solid start to the 2019 season with an eighth-placed finish out of 13 at the first Super Sunday event of the campaign at Ledbury.
The seven-strong squad travelled determined to put in play what they had been working on in pre-season training. Under the watchful eye of guest coach Simon Farris and team manager for the day, Jess Fox, the developmental squad certainly did that.
The day started in a pool of four, with the first match against hosts Ledbury. Stratford have had mixed results against them before and this match was no different.
Stratford started slowly and conceded two tries in the first half. Fantastic defence from Julie Allison and a fine chase down by Rhiannon Ridgway, along with a generally improved drift defence from all, kept the eventual winners of the tournament to a scoreless second half.
Next up were newcomers Woodrush against whom Stratford were able to further build on their defensive patterns and prevent Woodrush from crossing the whitewash.
Captain for the day, Caz Farris, nearly scored from a full-pitch run, only to be touched 5m from the line. She made up for it later though by throwing a dummy pass and touching down.
Jessie Darling also punched through the defence for a score and two beautifully-timed passes from debutant Sally Clarke put Ridgway over for a brace of tries to seal a 4-0 win.
After a break, Stratford faced Pershore, another side with a history of mixed results against. This time it was Pershore who prevailed.
They caught Stratford three times on the wing for pace but did not get through the middle. Once again the second half was a better scoreline than the first, with only one try almost on full-time in a 4-0 defeat.
There was great defensive play on show from all, especially Laura Middlemast and Becki Coombe to keep Pershore out for so long.
These results put Stratford in the round-robin for 7th-9th place. Up first were Redditch who won 1-0 in a very evenly matched game, decided by one lapse in Stratford’s drift defence.
Then came the gale force winds and snow. Despite being given the option to not play Old Laurentians and take a draw, neither team gave up and decided to play a shorter match.
By this point, Stratford were just at the six on the pitch, having lost Middlemast to injury. Those six played with incredible heart and passion and were rewarded for that with a great break through the line at ‘half’ from Darling, who was able to pop the ball up to Ridgway in support for her third try of the day which secured a 1-0 win and eighth spot.
Ridgway’s tries and defensive work earned her the Stratford player of the tournament award.
Stratford Ladies train at Stratford RFC on Tuesdays from 7pm and new players are always welcome.