PORT PEP PILLS!
The Firsts had an appointment in Eastlands with the student doctors on Saturday and came away with a clean bill of health.
Mike Smith reports.
The clash of two of the three promoted-sides between Manchester Medics and Southport proved to be a well contested match with Southport working hard to secure a bonus point win. Played at the Medics new home in the shadow of the Etihad Stadium the students left feeling blue and under the moon.
Medics started the contest with their tails up, looking to build on a convincing win against the third promoted-side Oswestry last time out, and put together numerous phases of play to test the Southport defence, which remained stout. However, the Medics possessed a powerful weapon in the shape of their number 8’s right boot, and after an early miss, he promptly slotted home two penalty kicks, the first from 40m out, to open up a 6-0 lead. Indeed, several further penalties conceded prevented Southport initially entering Medic’s territory, and when they were in possession, attacking options were hindered by a break down in continuity, preventing the visitors from threatening the Medics line.
But as the clock reached the half hour mark, Southport found a way through, as the power of the forwards harmoniously complimented the attacking threat of the backs. Medics were awarded a scrum at the edge of their 22, but a huge drive, anchored on the front row of Rob White, Calum Monaghan and Tom Smith, send the opposition back. The result was a penalty for collapsing the scrum, allowing Dan Whalen to quickly ship the ball wide, and when winger Tom Peacock was held on the line, full back Adam Atkinson was on hand to receive the offload and dive over in the corner; the conversion well converted from the touchline by Charlie Attis.
From the restart, Southport knocked on, but Monaghan took one against the head, allowing Josh Crtichley to terrorise the defence, eating up the yards and finding Joe Mawdsley in support. Medics could only disrupt the move by not rolling away at the ruck, and Attis immediately added to the tally with a well struck penalty kick. And shortly after, with Southport’s forwards now in total dominance, another turnover at the scrum set the mobile pack on the charge, and with Jordan Caldwell holding the defence with a charging run back inside, Southport found acres of space out wide with Atkinson again on hand to finish off the attack. Half time: Manchester Medics 6 Southport 15.
As the match restated, now Southport had all the territory and possession and Medics did well to keep the visitors out. However, on 15 minutes Southport attacked from deep, with runs from Danny Banks, cutting through, and Colin Fearns, crashing through, and with the defence scrambling to cover, Attis chipped an inch perfect kick to the vacant Tom Peacock, for the winger to cross the line unchallenged.
Medics responded well, and immediately came back at Southport, showing some fine individual skills and attacking intentions, particularly from the talented full back. But the team ethic of Southport saw the visitors turn the screw in their search of a fourth and bonus point try. They thought that they had this secured when a driving lineout was augmented with most of the backs in support and Banks at the bottom of the pile, only to be adjudged to have been held up. But the pressure was too much, and after a series of Southport penalties inside the Medics 22, resulting in the home side’s scrum half being yellow carded for one offence too many, Southport again combined well with the driving forwards releasing the clinical backs before the impressive Crtichley powered through and under the posts.
And to finish in style, a well worked Southport restart at the 22 set Peacock flying down the wing, and after a series of runs from Mawdsley, Banks and Fearns, Attis was there to complete the move under the uprights, converting his own try and topping off an accomplished performance from all eighteen of Southport’s men. Final score: Manchester Medics 6 Southport 34.
Next Saturday the promoted-sides early season league trinity is completed when Oswestry visit Waterloo Road. The Southport lads will be more than mindful though that they were left feeling nauseous by the Welsh Border side last time they came calling 18 months ago. But every game in this higher league throws up a new challenge. Bring it on!