SIXTEEN'S HOLD NO QUARTER
A reversal of the rugby truism that “the forwards win the game and the backs determine by how much” saw Southport U16s through to the semi-final.
Martyn Sime reports on a terrific win.
A battling display by James Cook and Jake Meleady-Hughes, both playing out of their preferred position for much of the game, saw Southport over the line despite almost an hour of solid pressure from a well drilled and physically strong Eccles team. Only a series of last ditch tackles kept the visitors to Waterloo Road on the right side of the try-line and Southport’s 24 point half-time lead intact.
Southport’s purple patch in the first twenty minutes of the game saw tries from George Scott, Harry Hewitt and James Cook. But the marker was set by captain, Louis Johnson who decided that early points on the board would be vital. When Eccles infringed just outside their own 22 on Southport’s first drive he invited Charlie Carney to step up from the second row to take the penalty, the first of his four scoring kicks.
Eccles’ attacking effort didn’t diminish and the physical intensity was maintained, despite both teams spending the 10 minutes before half-time with only 14 men. Southport’s strength in depth then began to tell as they were able to field a strong set of replacements, equally able to maintain their colleagues’ robust defence. With James Cook continuing to show his ability to turn the ball over at the breakdown, George Scott was able to take advantage of an increasingly tired Eccles team to ground the ball after a characteristic, jinking run for the final score of the match.