FEAST THEN FAMINE
The prawn sandwiches off the pitch quckly turned to kippers on it as the First's were stitched up by a powerful Douglas outfit. Mike Smith reports.
A large crowd assembled at Waterloo Road on Saturday in the sunshine for the annual pre-match Patrons lunch superbly organised as usual by Louise Dale and Sue Astwood, Guests included RFU Council member Rob Briers, and the President and Chairman of Lancashire RFU Tom Fitzgerald and Dave Herriman who presented Shane Cook with an award for his work on behalf of the club under the Mitsubishi Motors Volunteer Recognition Programme for grass roots clubs.
Duly fed and watered by the sumptuous buffet lunch, wine & beer the throng moved pitch side to watch the First XV play their last home game of the season last against Isle of Man visitors Douglas who were still in the hunt for the league title. However, that was as good as it got as despite the patrons gathered in their finery to rival any assembly at Aintree, it was the visitors who galloped to victory, romping home with an eight try victory.
Indeed the game followed an all too familiar pattern in recent weeks as far as the home side was concerned. Douglas were up in the first minute after Southport lost possession in midfield, allowing the visitors to ship the ball wide and score in the corner. Another Southport error, and a second try followed on 10 minutes as a lost lineout and a high tackle allowed Douglas’ powerful second row to crash over. And another lost lineout saw Douglas again get the ball wide, this time scoring in the right corner. Southport did have some possession in the Douglas half and several phases of play and conceded penalties saw them knocking at the visitor’s try line. However, Southport failed to keep possession and had the ball ripped from their grasp, and a couple of phases later, Douglas were over in the right corner, the trust boot of fly half Bryn Snellgrove again converting from the touchline for a 0-28 half time lead.
The second half didn’t start any better for the home side, with two more converted tries in the first ten minutes, the first well worked for Douglas’ hard working tight head prop to finish in the corner. Southport did continue to challenge and despite injuries looked to string together phases of play, which allowed Jake Mann to scamper over the line to break the home side’s duck. But Douglas added a further two tries to add to the Southport gloom, only broken by a ray of sunshine in the form of Tom Smallwood’s individual try, as the winger was first to raise to gather a Southport restart before dancing through the opposition to score a fine solo effort. So, Southport were well beaten by an organised Douglas side still striving for promotion. However, the Waterloo Rd side have one more challenge left this term and, having comfortably ensured their place in this league for next season, know what it will take for them to build on this season’s efforts and put themselves in promotion contention in future years.
Elsewhere the Seconds secured a very welcome 32-27 victory at Vale of Lune, but this was marred by a serious injury to Mike Blinston who was air lifted to hospital for an overnight stay. Fortunately he is now back home and more worried about the club shirt the medics had to cut off! Everyone wishes him a speedy recovery. The Thirds could also with treatment for trauma after suffering a heavy defeat by Clitheroe Firsts but this is no reflection on the severely depleted squad that travelled. The important thing is that the fixture was fulfilled but it also illustrates the immense difficulties the club has had in raising teams because of injury, non-availability or whatever with only over half of the current senior player members available in recent weeks. This is something the Club will be working hard behind the scenes to rectify in preparation for next season.
The Douglas match was followed by the annual SRFC Grand National Race Night with a full house and much fun, including club sponsor Peter Thwaites the owner of the fifth place horse Gas Line Boy in the main event turning up with floral arrangements from the winners enclosure at Aintree! On the pitch Callum ‘Toots’ Toothill took the honours in the live race on the pitch!
On Sunday despite great efforts the u17 Colts and u18 girls both lost in the Semi-Finals of their respective National competitions but nevertheless a great accolade for each and for the club. The u17s lost 43-22 to a strong Bromsgove unit at Stourbridge, and the girls 34-5 to Old Brodlians at Bury.
As u17 manger Martyn Sime reflected “One friendly, and twenty-three competitive games. fourteen wins, nine defeats. two semi-finals, runner's up spot in the Raging Bull Colts B-league and holder's of the Northern Divisional U17 shield. Very proud of all the Junior Colts and the U16s who supported us. As the last day of the season comes to an end, a great thank you has to be said to all the coaches, Shane Cook Sean Gibney Martyn Sime and Andy Corlett, along with all those at Southport who helped us throughout what on reflection we can call a successful season, with very few breaks and very few players, we are all a credit to each other, here's to next year and hopefully many more to come” Not a bad season at all!
But to end on a high well done to Southport u15s who won their semi final in the Lancashire Vase at Fleetwood 27-12 and now progress to the final in a few weeks time.