FIRSTS CLASP HONOURS AGAIN!
Professor Mike Smith gives us his dissertation.....
Southport travelled to the University of Liverpool’s excellent facilities at Wyncote Sports Ground last Saturday to face the Liverpool University Medics, and studiously produced an educated display of open running rugby to take the points back to Waterloo Rd.
It was clear from the off that Southport’s powerhouse front row of Tom Smith, Liam Webb and Dan Aindow were going to be too much for the Medics to handle as two early home scrums were shoved back at a rate of knots. The second gave good ball for Southport to feed wide to Tom Peacock, and the winger produced a sublime off load out of the back of the hand before finding Jamie Bailey in support to finish in the corner, well converted from the touchline by Jake McMullen. A second try followed soon after, with the Southport forwards bullying the opposition in the 22, causing Medics to throw a loose pass over the try line, quickly pounced on by Tom Hill. Then from another solid scrum, Southport again spread the ball wide, with slick hands from Bailey in the centre, and recycled well. Demonstrating the range of players’ skills, it was second row Mike Dale who undertook the role of scrum half, finding hooker Liam Webb in the centres before McMullen took an excellent line back inside to finish over the line.
The bonus point try came mid-way through the half, when winger Dylan Norbury cleverly chipped the defence before darting through and grounding the ball in the corner. Two more tries were to follow in the half; the first after good work from the back row turned over possession, allowing Southport to build the pressure, sucking in the defence, and this time Webb popped up on the right wing, showing his heel to the defence as he cruised around the outside and back under the sticks. The second was courtesy of another powerful Southport scrum, allowing Josh Critchley to pick from the base and drive over the line. Half time: Medics 0 Southport 38.
Southport continued where they left off in the second half, Webb carrying well and Dan Whalen dictating proceedings at scrum half before a gap was worked for Bailey to cruise through and ground the ball under the posts. If the first try of the half had been a team effort, the second was a piece of individual skill from Critchley, starting a marauding run from inside his own half, and demonstrating pace and strength that was too much for the Medics defence to handle. However, the youthful Medics continued to toil all afternoon and were nearly gifted an interception try a short time later. But a superb cover tackle from Danny Banks on the left winger snuffed out the opportunity and Southport were soon back on the front foot attacking the Medics’ try line. This time it was McMullen who found the gap to ghost through the middle, where again he found Bailey in support to finish off.
With such dominance in the scrum, Southport’s captain Joe Mawdsley was electing to take a set piece at penalty time, and this decision making provided the next try. A 5m scrum was shunted back to the line, with Critchley controlling well at the base before picking up and grounding for his third of the day. With such flowing rugby, Southport were now attacking from all quarters and the next try was a perfect example, starting in their own 22, before good hands and recycling saw Jake Mann as the extra man on the outside and he had the legs to get over in the corner, before converting his own try from the touchline. And from the restart, this time it was Colin’s Fearns’ opportunity to shine, with a blistering run piercing the defence before an excellent offload gave Bailey an easy finish to chalk up his fourth of the contest.
With time running out, Southport added one more try, again the result of a patient build up with Southport stringing together several phases before Hill found the gap and supplied Peacock for the winger to get on the scoresheet. The Medics were rewarded for their constant efforts at the death with a consolation try in the left corner, however Southport can be proud of a workmanlike performance having comprehensively put their opponents to the scalpel. Final score: Medics 5 Southport 83.