STRATFORD Ladies recovered from a wobbly start to win the Vase competition at the opening Super Sunday event of the 2018 Midlands Ladies Touch League.
The last two seasons have all been about development and recruitment for Stratford and this came to fruition at the latest competition, which drew together teams from the South West Midlands and North East Midlands Ladies Touch Leagues for a stand-alone event with randomly drawn pools played to determine which tier competition you finally play for.
The results do not effect the league standings. The first of these for 2018 was played at Ledbury on Sunday and Bec Charles took charge as Stratford captain for the second time in the absence of injured Jane McGovern.
Fielding a depleted squad of eight at the start of the day, with Rachel McGovern as the only player with more than one season’s experience, Stratford faced Redditch, Balsall/Old Coventrians and hosts Ledbury in their pool. Once again, the playing draw was not in their favour and they had all three matches in a row.
Redditch were first up and Stratford showed they had worked hard on defence since the last tournament despite losing 2-0.
The newly-formed Balsall/Old Coventrians team were next and Stratford scored through Jessie Darling but poor hands meant no more were scored and they let the opposition break through the middle to score two tries which resulted in a 2-1 loss.
Ledbury were an impressive unit and Stratford, despite the impressive efforts of veteran Caz Farris in speeding up the delivery of the ball in the second half, were made to pay for a lack of communication as they went down 5-1 despite a score from Rachel Browne.
This put Stratford into the play-off with Pinley and Brecon for the fourth tier Vase competition – a trophy that had not been presented before at a Super Sunday due to the competition structure and number of teams.
Having been bitterly disappointed to finish last in the pool, Stratford were determined to refocus after the break and give everything they in the last two matches – and how it proved.
A hard-fought 4-2 victory over Pinley was achieved thanks to a brace of tries from Heather Britton and scores from Rachel McGovern and Browne.
Brecon then drew with Pinley, leaving Stratford knowing only a victory against Brecon would guarantee Vase success. They duly achieved it as Rachel McGovern crossed again following a fantastic dummy to seal a 1-0 victory.
Stratford coach Richard Pepperell said: “The ladies did really well in the heat and we won a trophy, which is a real boost for the team.
“Our handling skills continue to develop, defence was much-improved and we won our last two games well.
“We still need to work on speeding up the play after a touch, our lines of running and using the right people in the right places on the pitch.”
Stratford’s player of the tournament was Laura Middlemast who continues to improve and showed slick handling skills.
Stratford’s next tournament is a North East Midlands League event on June 3 at Berkswell & Balsall.
New players are welcome to training which continues on Tuesdays at 7pm at Stratford RFC. For further details, visit Stratford RFC’s social media.