STRATFORD Ladies sit top of the North East Midlands Touch League following a third placed finish in the third tournament of the campaign at Camp Hill on Sunday.
The tournament started with the three pool games back-to-back, which is hard enough even in cooler conditions.
The first match against Newbold Falcons saw Rachel McGovern cross the whitewash twice and Helen Clifford also score in a 3-0 win.
The second match against Wellesbourne proved hard for Stratford as a strong Wellesbourne side ran in two tries through some poor defence and Stratford’s heads then dropped, resulting in a 5-1 loss.
After taking on a bit of water and spending as much time in the shade as possible between matches, Stratford picked themselves up and won the last pool game 2-0 against Old Laurentians as Clifford and Katie Tompkins scored the tries.
These results put Stratford second in the pool and gave them a chance to compete against Redditch for a spot in the 1st/2nd place play-off.
The score at the end of the match was a 2-2 draw after tries for Clifford and Tompkins. In that situation, where a result is needed, touch games play a ‘drop off’ sudden death. Teams start the extra time with one less player and drop another one every minute until a try is scored.
This is a hard process at the best of times, especially when three players are trying to cover a pitch set up for six, but in the heat was particularly tough.
Down to three players, Redditch were able to get the ball around the Stratford defence and book their slot in the 1st/2nd place play-off. They eventually won that as well, winning their first tournament of the season against Wellesbourne who claim a deserved second place.
Stratford played Camp Hill for 3rd/4th place and this resulted in another ‘drop off’ after a 1-1 draw, with Tompkins on the mark for Stratford.
This time, though, Clifford was the one who found that last ounce of energy in tired legs and ran around for the winner to put Stratford in third place for the tournament and cementing her Player of the Tournament status.
Stratford coach Nath Geekie said: “A third place finish on a day when so much went against us is a good result. The girls did really well, essentially playing back-to-back games through the whole day in such hot conditions, two of which went to sudden-death.
“We had a bit of a slow start, but we showed in parts just how much we can play and pick teams apart with some great attacking scores. The team is yet to finish outside the top three so far this season so the bar has been set high.”
Many congratulations go to Jackie Proctor for her contribution in her first tournament in such conditions and a special mention goes to Stratford players Nat Gisbourne and Laura Facey, who actually made up 50 per cent of the refereeing team for the day.
The Ladies were back in training on Tuesday to prepare for the next round at Redditch on June 5. Training is held at 6.30pm on Tuesdays at Stratford RFC and new players are always welcome.
Standings: 1st Stratford, 27 points; 2nd Camp Hill, 26; 3rd Redditch, 24; 4th Wellesbourne, 23; 5th Newbold, 19; 6th Rugby St Andrews; 7th Berkswell & Balsall, 11; 8th Old Laurentians, 10; 9th Old Coventrians, 2.