By Robert Smallwood
With Southport as league winners elect they could have been forgiven for switching off for the last game of the league, however this was not the case and were involved in one of the most enjoyable and competitive matches of the season, which is always the case when these two teams play each other.
Both teams looked to play fast open rugby, with the backs of both teams all getting the chance to show their pace, on a couple of occasions both Ben Creswell and James Bailey were denied tries in the corner by last ditch tackles. The fast and furious nature of the game led to the inevitable errors but also saw some good quick handling moves. It took some great defensive tackles across the whole field and by all the Southport players to thwart the Waterloo attacks.
The first score of the game came from a penalty awarded to Southport from in front of the posts, James Bailey kicking the points. Waterloo fought back and following a period of sustained pressure broke the Southport defence to score a try and take a first half lead 5-3.
With coach Martin Bailey
having been taken to hospital just before the game suffering from an injury sustained in the game a day before, stand in coaches advice was to keep the ball close to the break down and drive it up through the forwards. However the second half kicked off very much the same as the first with both teams looking to run the ball from anywhere, and as the half progressed both teams were very much at stale mate, the backs becoming more tired and unable to break their opponents defence. Southport were able to force another penalty that they wisely kicked to lead 6-5. It always looked like it would come down to who could score that one break away try that would take the game, and both teams had their opportunities. Waterloo’s best attempt was stopped by a last ditch tackle by Dan Lloyd only meters short of the Southport try line, just giving the remainder of the team time to reorganise their defence.
Southport did then sustain some pressure of their own, predominantly through keeping the ball close to the ruck and driving up field! With time running out Waterloo kicked the ball from their own try line, only for it to be caught and returned with interest by Oli Roberts at full back, who’s speed took him round and through a number of the opposition to off load the ball to another speed merchant, Callum Macneil, for him to run it in the corner. Although the conversion was missed, with only time for one more play, Southport duly cleared the ball to touch and the celebrations began.
Congratulations to all the squad, who have all excelled individually in certain games to date this year, but who have collectively and consistently supported each other in every game to play good rugby.
Southport scorers. Try: Macneil 1 Penalties: Roberts 1, Bailey 1
Southport. Roberts, B Creswell, Lloyd, Bailey, Hilliker, Greenhalgh, Critchley, Arslanian, Reantus, Smallwood, Unsworth, Green, Tarbuck, D Creswell, Cross, Macneil, Berry, Gelling