PORT IN A STORM
Southport returned to winning ways on Saturday at Wallasey, but progress was hampered by a determined home side and difficult playing conditions.
Mike Smith reports.
Despite the recent torrents, Wallasey produced a playing surface that, although soft underfoot, allowed Southport to continue to implement their attacking style of rugby. This they did from the off, with powerful runs from Calum Monaghan and Rob White breaking through tackles and putting the home side on the back foot. With the defence rushing up, outside half Danny Banks saw the space and launched a perfectly weighed kick deep into the Wallasey 22, inviting Dylan Norbury to chase. This he did, outstripping his opposite number, chipping through and grounding the ball.
Southport’s forwards were now in dominant form at the set plays, stealing the ball at both scrum and lineout. From such a steal, expertly picked out of the air by Sam Cross from a Wallasey lineout inside Southport territory, Southport countered. Dan Whalen found Colin Fearns in support and he linked well with the backs. Simple hands found Jamie Bailey in space, and the centre was unstoppable as he powered through the gap and drove over the try line, converted by Jake McMullen for a 0-12 lead within 15 minutes. However, despite rarely leaving the Wallasey half, Southport failed to add to their score before the break, with unforced errors and a variety of penalties conceded allowing Wallasey to kick out of the danger zone.
As the teams turned around, Southport faced into an increasing wind and rain, as the end of Storm Abigail made its presence felt on the Wirral. The deteriorating conditions seemed to affect both teams as neither sustained pressure in the oppositions 22 for any length of time, with the game being played out in the middle of the park. Southport continued to toil, and did make some inroads, most notably a great break from number 8 Josh Critchley after a pick-up at the base of the scrum saw the number 8 charging at the Wallasey line only to be stopped by a great cover tackle. Replacements Gareth Lang and Craig Pacey were soon in the action, combining well to attack down the flank, but again Southport were unable to capitalise on possession.
As the match entered the final quarter, Southport eventually broke through the dogged defence, when a great break from replacement Jake Mann created the opportunity for the scrum half to feed a charging Cross on his inside for the second rower to power over the line for a third try, converted by Mann. The score seemed to spur the visitors on further, as they proceeded to play out the remainder of the game in Wallasey’s half, seeking a bonus point try. But it was not to be, and despite crossing the try line at the death, were unable to ground the ball, allowing Wallasey to clear their lines as the final whistle sounded.
So despite the difficult conditions and some unforced errors, Southport recorded a hard fought win away at the league’s fourth placed team, without conceding a score, and can now look forward to the visit of St Edwards Old Boys next Saturday at Waterloo Rd. Final score Wallasey 0 Southport 19.