The 1st XV welcomed Port Sunlight to Waterloo Rd on Saturday as they aimed to cement their position at the top of the league. Steve Mann reports.
With bad weather threatening Southport started quickly and were testing Port Sunlight out on the wings.
It took 10 minutes to break the deadlock, the visitors expected the ball to go wide once more but Danny Banks cut through their defence to score under the uprights. Jake Mann was on kicking duty this week and slotted this one with ease. 7-0.
Over the next few minutes the weather took a turn for the worse and handling errors helped keep Sunlight in the game.
On 17 minutes Jake McMullen took a sublime line and side stepped the fullback to score on the right. 12-0.
Minutes later Southport were testing the visitors defence once more with a pacy run from Josh Critchley getting things moving. Sunlight held strong this time and ran then kicked clear. A scrum on the 10m line gave Port another attacking platform and this time the ball went one channel further for Jamie Bailey to round the last man. 17-0.
Play became a bit scrappy as the rain took its toll and with the ball becoming like a bar of Pears soap possession changed hands frequently. It took a further 12 minutes for the bonus point to be secured. Again the scrum was the catalyst and Critchley picked up at 8 to charge over. Mann added the extras this time and Southport took a 24-0 lead into the break.
The second half started with Sunlight pinned back deep in their half and Tom Hill looked to get in behind with a chip over the top. The kick was charged down but fortunately fell into Baileys hands and he once again cut through before being stopped just short.
Sunlight spend the next few minutes trying desperately to get out of their 22 but with the strong wind blowing their kick ended up going dead behind them. They then tried to run it out but a boot found the touchline and Port once again had possession.
Sam Cross solidly took the ball in the lineout and carried strongly all day.
Some lovely handling got the ball from Banks through Gareth Lang and Bailey to Tom Peacock who slid in to “free pint corner". Mann converted from out wide and the score was now 31-0.
From the restart Southport run it out but when the ball went to ground Joe Mawdsley was forced to slide into touch with it and ended up sitting in a large puddle. With 50 minutes played and Sunlight looking tired on came the Southport subs.
A loose lineout was once again cleared up by captain Joe Mawdsley who cut through the defence to slide over the line unfortunately receiving a cut to his head and having to watch from the sidelines. Mann Converted again. 38-0.
Sunlight were now defending for all they were worth and managed to hold out some charging runs from Colin Toohey with Tom Smith and Dan Aindow in support. On the 66th minute Jamie Bailey came from nowhere to scythe through the defence once more. 43-0.
The floodgates were now opening and Port were looking to pile on the points to create a buffer at the top of the league.
A magical dummy from Lang flatfooted the defence and the ball once again wide to the corner only for the last pass to be deemed forward. It didn't matter as Port were totally dominant now and scored almost immediately through Banks as he picked up a loose ball and ran in under the sticks. The drop goal conversion got the half century. 50-0.
As the visitors tired further, Port’s class showed through and it wasn't long before Bailey was back on the score sheet and another drop put the score to 57-0.
Cross got the next and well deserved it after his brilliant performance today, he simply muscled his way over under the posts to make the dropgoal a formality. 64-0.
Cross was instrumental in setting the platform for the next try with Dan Whalen on hand to supply a quick ball out to Bailey again under the sticks. 71-0.
Moments later as the clock ticked down Banks dummied and stepped before unselfishly offloading to Lang for him to cross the line. Mann made it 5 out of 5 drop goals with the last kick and the league leaders took another 5 points and a 78-0 win.
Port now sit 5 points clear at the top of the league but with Ruskin Park still breathing down their necks.
Only 3 games left to hold their nerve and seal the promotion they so deserve.