SHAW SANK REFLECTION
Southport faced a stern test last Saturday as they travelled to Oldershaw, but still came home with a bonus point victory to show for their bruises.
Mike Smith reports.
From the start it was apparent that this would be a contest of opposing styles of rugby, as Oldershaw used their forwards as a battering ram at every opportunity. However Southport’s eight matched the burly Oldershaw pack blow for blow, and for the first 25 minutes it was a case of the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object as neither side managed to gain the upper hand. However Southport’s patience was eventually rewarded when a well take lineout allowed play to spread across the field before the ball was recycled well, and this provided space for Jake McMullen to find Sam Cross out wide. Cross drove infield, drew two players and found Jamie Bailey in support for the centre to cross for the opening score, converted by McMullen.
And the score was soon doubled when from the restart the forwards collected and recycled, with a powerful Gareth Lang drive, and released Chris Drescher on the left wing. Again rucking well, Southport changed the attack freeing Dylan Norbury on the opposite flank. With the last man to beat, Norbury put in an exquisite kick, rounded his man and grounded the ball in the dead ball area. But Oldershaw were determined to stifle the expansive Southport style of play wherever they could and there then followed a scrappy period which saw both teams reach the half way point with two men in the sin bin. Half time: Oldershaw 0 Southport 14.
As the second half started, it was the 13 men of Oldershaw that started the brighter, and soon they had Southport’s 13 men penned back in their own half with a series of powerful drives. This provided Oldershaw’s burly outside half with the opportunity to drive over the try line, taking two players with him, to half the deficit. But Southport responded immediately from the restart when the forwards recovered the ball and set up a driving maul. With vision, flanker Kristian Griffiths, on as a replacement for captain Joe Mawdsley, burst down the bind side, and drew the last man to put winger Drescher in for a timely response.
A fourth try soon followed, this time created by Dan Whalen, now plying his trade at outside half, who sold a simple dummy before finding the gap and accelerating through. A scrambled Oldershaw defence prevented the final pass finding a Southport hand, but Bailey was in support to pounce on the loose ball and ground at the foot of the post protectors. With the game slipping away, Oldershaw still continued their physical assault on the Southport try line. Unfortunately they hadn’t accounted for the reactions of Drescher, who picked an interception pass out of the air and went the length of the field with no-one able to touch him.
So despite facing a stiff examination Southport passed the test with flying colours and move on to a home game against Oxton Parkonians next weekend. Final score: Oldershaw 7 Southport 33.
PS. You can now follow the action as it happens on Twitter thanks to Emma Banks. Never mind the bruises on the pitch, if the First scarry on scoring at this rate what about Emmas fingertips!