STRATFORD Ladies finished the Midlands Ladies’ Touch League season in third place overall after a dramatic final Super Sunday tournament at Droitwich.
Stratford, who had already secured top spot in the North East Midlands Ladies Touch League, went into the season finale sitting joint first in the Super Sunday competition with Pershore and Ross-on-Wye, the winners and runners-up of the South West Midlands Ladies’ Touch League respectively, with all having 38 points each.
A tense occasion unfolded and eventually Pershore were crowned champions with 58 points, ahead of second placed Ross on 57 and Stratford on 56.
The build-up to the tournament was less than ideal as league administration issues, illness and teams pulling out at the last minute all caused disruption.
Stratford’s own preparation was not great as injury, sickness bugs and no coach on the sidelines meant the team was depleted and those there on the day really had to show their mettle.
The teams were put into two pools of five for the first part of the day and Stratford began with a 5-0 win against Berkswell & Balsall with a brace of tries each for captain Jane McGovern and England U18 player Maddie Rendell and one for Helen Clifford.
Next up were local rivals Wellesbourne and Stratford claimed a 4-0 victory thanks to a hat-trick from Rendell and another try from Jane McGovern.
The final two pool games were against teams from the opposite league, who Stratford only come up against on Super Sundays.
Ross inflicted a 2-0 defeat on Stratford but the Warwickshire side hit back to seal a 4-2 win over Greyhound as the prolific Rendell scored another hat-trick and Rachel McGovern also registered.
These results put Stratford in second place in the pool and the knockout stage then required the winners of each pool to play-off against the second placed team in the other pool to determine who plays for 1st/2nd place and 3rd/4th place.
The winners of the other pool were Pershore, to be expected as SW league winners, meaning they faced Stratford, who played some great rugby in a very tight match but were unable to stop the one try that made the difference, putting Stratford in the 3rd/4th place play-off against Redditch.
Results against Redditch had been mixed this season, with some great wins for both sides, and it was Redditch who Stratford had to play-off against to win the NE MLTL.
With Pershore and Ross playing for first and second place, Stratford knew that, not only was their best finish on the day going to be third, but also for the Super Sunday competition.
Stratford rose to the challenge and played one of their best matches of the day to secure a 3-1 win against the Queenfishers as tries came from Rendell, Clifford and debutant Kala Raines, a former mini/junior rugby player for Stratford.
Stratford RFC stalwart Richard Pepperell had stepped in at the last minute to help run the touchline and his support, motivation and eye for detail in the game as a whole and for individuals was invaluable to the team.
Player of this tournament went to Clifford who was hardly off the pitch in her last tournament for the club. She has shown great skill and been a tremendous asset all year and her team-mates wish her all the best in her future Shakespearean studies.
Afterwards Stratford received the league trophy for the NE MLTL and it was also a chance for the league to say thank you to administrators Fizz Bewley and Sarah Wheeldon by presenting them with a gift.
Stratford player Wheeldon will be stepping down for next season and the club wishes Catriona Rollason from Wellesbourne every success in the role for 2017.