FIRSTS MAINTAIN MOMENTUM
Another home victory was witnessed at Waterloo Rd, this time 'Port seeing off a determined Oxton Parkonians side. Mike Smith reports.
The home side were first out of the blocks and from the off recycled well, setting up phase after phase of play before creating space for Chris Drescher to exploit down the right, allowing the powerful winger to break the last tackle and touch down under the uprights. Parkonians immediately responded with a period of pressure on the Southport try line, however a solid defence, encapsulated by big hits from Sam Cross and Josh Critchley, kept the visitors at bay. And from a relieving Parkonians kick, Tom Hill gathered well and again found Dresher who had picked an excellent line to get beyond the defence, before demonstrating deft hands to put Jamie Bailey in for his first try of the day.
Southport’s pack were keen to demonstrate their superiority in the battle up front and a powerful scrum put Parkonians on the back foot forcing their back row to pick up under pressure. This provided Gareth Lang with the opportunity to sack his opposite number and from excellent turnover ball, Dan Whalen, dictating play from outside half, set Bailey on his way. This time it was route one as the centre broke through several would-be tacklers before finishing over the line. But Parkonians showed determination throughout the match and were not to lie back. The visitors set up a series of raids in the Southport 22, aided by ill-discipline from the home side that saw Southport temporarily reduced to 14 men after a high tackle. Eventually the pressure told and it was Parkonians’ captain and number 8, Terry Williams, who found the gap through the defence to score a deserved try before the break. Half time: Southport 19 Oxton Parkonians 7.
Southport started the second half knowing that they needed to be more patient in possession, and they soon extinguished any hope that Parkonians might have had of staging a come-back, after the seven men of Southport’s scrum drove back their opposition to provide clean ball for their backs. This allowed Tom Peacock, now on as a replacement, to make a powerful break through the middle, and quick recycling forced the defence to stray offside. A quick tap found Calum Monaghan charging over the whitewash to increase the lead. Another followed soon after, following several phases of play showing excellent continuity between backs and forwards, and featuring a bulldozing run from Tom Smith. With the attack stopped just short of the line, it was Jake Mann who was on hand to put the finishing touches to the move, crossing from a yard out.
Southport were now getting into their stride and scored another off the back of the scrum when good hands from Whalen provided Bailey with the opportunity to power over the try line. With Southport now stringing together phases of possession, Parkonians struggled to contain the attacks. After several such phases, and a run from McMullen back into his pack, followed by another from Critchley, the forwards created the perfect platform for Mann, who seeing the space darted down the blindside and over the line. Even when Parkonians tried to peg Southport back, they came from deep, the next try after a loose lineout ball fell into the arms of Lang and he took off from his own 22 up to the halfway line, finding Joe Mawdsley in support before the captain drew the last man and put Critchley away to race into the corner. And the final try came again from inside Southport’s 22, with powerful runs from Cross and then Critchley, before McMullen broke through the tacklers and with Mann in support executed the perfect two-on-one to allow the scrum half to score his third and the teams’ ninth try of the afternoon. Final score: Southport 53 Oxton Parkonians 7.