FIRSTS CLASP HONOURS
Southport welcomed Liverpool University Medics to Hillside on Saturday but the one sided scoreline belied a determined performance by the visitors.
Mike Smith reports.
It was in fact the Medics that started the brighter, pushing the Southport pack off their own scrum and launching powerful attacks at the Southport backs. However the shock to the system seemed to galvanise the home side and the Southport pack responded with interest when they drove the Medics off their own scrum, which provided the opportunity for number 8 Josh Critchley to attack the blind side and take out two defenders before finding Danny Booth in support for the flanker to ground for the opening score. A short time later, the lead was increased when scrum half Dan Whalen fielded a Medics clearance kick and set Jamie Bailey on the counterattack. Southport’s backs and forwards combined well with good hands from Gareth Lang and a powerful run from Critchley before he found Tom Hill on his inside to finish the move.
Southport’s forwards were now dominating the set pieces and from another Medics scrum driven off the ball, Critchley this time found Whalen in support and he found Bailey to score in the corner, well converted by Jake McMullen. And from an attacking lineout, the Southport pack again drove their opponents back which provided good ball to Bailey and this time the centre banged and crashed his way through the defence unaided and under the sticks. Despite being reduced to 14 men with a yellow card just before the break for Lang, Southport took at healthy 26-0 lead into the interval.
As the second half got underway, the home side soon found their numbers reduced to 13 after McMullen was also sent to the bin after a series of team high tackles. But Southport held on, and once restored to 14, with Sam Cross replacing Lang, were still able to dominate up front. This provided good ball for the backs, and from another Bailey run it was Dan Aindow who was this time on hand to pick up the pieces. When the prop was stopped just short of the line, good rucking allowed Dylan Norbury to collect at the base and dance over the try line. And Norbury had a hand in the next try as well after he and Bailey chased down a Danny Banks clearance kick. The pair combined well to turn the ball over, greatly assisted at the ruck by Colin Toohey who powerfully cleared out the Medics fullback as he tried to gather the ball. Quick ball from Jake Mann now on at scrum half set his backs free and slick hands allowed Chris Drescher to finish off in the corner.
Further changes saw Lang return in the back row, and he was soon back in the thick of the action, choosing a sublime line from Mann to break the defence and find Critchley in support. With the line at his mercy, Critchley drew the last man and fed his team mate, who crossed the line unopposed, however failed to ground the ball over it! However Southport were excelling at the set scrum, and another powerful drive on the opposition’s put in again allowed a counter attack. Good recycling work from captain Joe Mawdsley at the ruck saw the impressive Calum Monaghan carry well, and his powerful run drew in the defence and allowed Southport’s backs to exploit the space and simple hands again allowed Drescher to score the final try in the corner.
So Southport open their home account with a hard earned win, but know that the Medics will provide a difficult test for the return match at Wyncote Playing Fields in December