FIRSTS CAUGHT COLD BY TRAFFORD
The malaise extended into a third week after a close fought loss saw the Waterloo Road side crash out of the Lancashire Plate. Mike Smith sums it up.
Southport took the lead mid-way through the first half after a well struck Jake McMullen penalty from just outside Trafford’s 22, awarded for hands in the ruck. And from the restart, Southport marched back down into Trafford territory before again being awarded a penalty inside the 22. However this time captain George Baumber opted to kick to the corner instead of take the 3 points, and a catch and drive at the lineout saw the Southport pack drive their counterparts over the try line, with Liam Webb coming up with the ball, conversion missed.
Looking in control of proceedings, Southport nearly increased their lead after great work from McMullen stripping the ball from his opposite number inside his own 22 before powerful rucking from the forwards took the attack into Trafford’s half. An excellent break from Danny Booth found the gap, and after quick hands it was McMullen who found himself charging for the corner to finish off the move he started, only for a great cover tackle to put him into touch.
But two tries for Trafford either side of the half time break dramatically changed the contest. The first came in the last play of the first half when from a Trafford scrum on the halfway line, Trafford attacked deep before getting the ball wide, only for Southport’s last man to go high in the tackle resulting in the awarding of a penalty try. And at the start of the second half, Southport’s 14 men failed to deal with the kick off, allowing Trafford to kick through and score in the corner for an 8-12 lead. The lead was extended a short time later when Southport’s Danny Banks on the attacked narrowly failed to recover his own kick, and from the loose ball Trafford’s scrum half was first to react and having scooped up the ball he then proceeded to run unopposed through the Southport defensive line and score in the corner.
Southport were given an immediate opportunity to reduce arrears when Trafford’s prop was sin binned for joining the maul from the side and around the neck of a Southport forward, and from the resulting penalty McMullen added to his tally. However from the restart Southport again failed to deal with the kick, and hands in the ruck gave Trafford another penalty to restore their advantage.
When Southport put passages of play together they looked dangerous in attack, and with props Dan Aindow and Tom Smith exerting great pressure on their opposite numbers at the scrum, Southport were given a great platform from which they were able to attack the Trafford line. Dan Whalen at scrum half marshalled his backs as they attacked down the right, before capitalising on the space created on the left, feeding Josh Critchley who found Jamie Bailey charging for the line. When the ball spilled in the tackle, Booth was first on hand to twist and turn and ground the ball, and make it a one score game with 20 minutes to go.
But despite being in the ascendancy, ultimately it was Southport who proved to be their own undoing, and after two further Southport players were yellow carded, Southport failed to create chances to score, and it was Trafford who march to the final and Southport who are left to wonder about what might have been. Final score: Southport 16 Trafford 22.