GREAT EFFORT IN ADVERSITY BUT LESSONS TO BE LEARNT.
Southport welcomed Liverpool St Helens to Waterloo Rd last Saturday, and despite battling hard, came up short against the experienced and well drilled visitors.
Mike Smith is on the the ball.
Southport were under immediate pressure when the first score came from the kick off as Liverpool St Helens caught the ball and put together phase after phase of play that took them deep into Southport territory. Finding space on the left, good recycling allowed the ball to be shipped wide for winger Hodson to score in the right corner. Southport responded well and from the restart put together several phases themselves, pushing the visitors back with each play and were only stopped by a high tackle in front of the posts, allowing Charlie Attis to take the three points on offer. However, their progress was stunted when Southport were penalised for collapsing a maul and Colin Toohey yellow carded, allowing Liverpool St Helens to kick to the corner and set up a driving maul from the ensuing lineout that was driven over the line and grounded to increase the lead. And whilst Southport were still down to 14 men, the visitors made the most of the numerical advantage, when scrum half and captain Darren Wilson found the space to cut through and score under the sticks.
However, as the half neared the break several incidents occurred that swung the momentum one way then the other, and arguable greatly influenced the final outcome of the match. First LSH were themselves reduced to 14 men after another high tackle. Then, as the visitors tried to clear their lines, Southport attacked from deep, with Tom Hill running back at pace, before the forwards added the hard yards, Colin Fearns piercing thorough, then finally spreading the ball wide for Tom Peacock to score and excellent try in the corner, well converted from the touchline by Attis. With their tails up, Southport immediately attacked from the restart, taking play deep into the LSH half. However, with LSH preventing quick ball and penalty advantage being played, Southport’s Jake Mann took the law in to his own hands and subsequently saw red, unfortunately for him also the referee’s card. LSH kicked the ball dead at the resulting penalty, signalling the end of an eventful half, and Southport went to the break knowing they had a task ahead in the second. Half time: Southport 10 Liverpool St Helens 17.
Despite being a player down, Southport stated the second half well, and good possession took play into the visitor’s territory where another infringement allowed Attis to reduce the difference to four points. However, Liverpool St Helens kept the ball well, a feature of their game all afternoon, and soon found space for Cunliffe to crash over. Another well struck Attis long range penalty reduced the deficit slightly, but Saints struck twice more in response; the first the pick of their tries courtesy of interplay from the Cunliffe brothers in midfield putting Hodson through and over in the left corner; the second added shortly later after another good period of phase rugby.
Southport did continue to labour all day, never letting up, and eventually the 14 men earned a consolation try at the end, finished in the corner by replacement Dan Aindow. However, the home side ultimately ended up second best, and despite causing the LSH defence issues in attack, failed to control enough possession, so must now move on and refocus for the next challenge ahead. Final score: Southport 23 Liverpool St Helens 36.