TIDE TURNS AT TYLDESLEY
After two narrow defeats the First's deservedly struck gold on Saturday but the scoreline papers over the cracks. Mike Smith reports.
Southport travelled away last Saturday to Tyldesley, looking for a first win of the season. But within minutes they were behind, after Tyldesley’s forwards put together a string of assaults on the Southport defence, before the outside half found the gap to break the line and set the fullback free to open the scoring. However, with only six minutes gone, the home side’s afternoon became much harder after they were reduced to 14 men when a dangerous tackle produced a red card.
Despite the numerical advantage, Southport initially struggled for good ball, until Tyldesley took to clearing their lines in possession, right into the arms of Tom Hill, who had several excellent attacking runs. And from an attacking Southport lineout, quality ball at the back saw Hill come into the line and scythes through the defence to score under the sticks, a Charlie Attis conversion taking the lead. As the half continued, both sides failed to take advantage of attacking chances, until two minutes before the break, when Southport knocked on in their own 22, seeing Tyldesley react quickly to the loose ball, before a penalty 5m out was quickly tapped allowing Tyldesley’s busy scrum half to scamper over.
However, Southport were not done, and set up a passage of simple rugby from the restart, with Sam Cross and Rob White powering forwards, before Jake Mann and Attis combined to free Tom Peacock to stride over on the wing. But again, the tide immediately turned when Southport transgressed at the restart, allowing Tyldesley an easy penalty kick and an assured half time lead. Somehow the kick missed its mark, and it was Southport who had a slender advantage as the teams turned around. Half time: Tyldesley 12 Southport 14.
Following an opportunity for both teams to regroup, it was Southport who came out of the blocks faster after the break and the visitors put together a purple patch of quality rugby that effectively decided the contest. From the kick off, a towering Cross gathered the ball, and allowed Attis to kick for territorial advantage. And when Southport regained possession, a powerful James Wright run drew the defence, allowing Southport to again find Peacock in space for him to run in to score in the right corner, converted from the touchline by Attis. Attis was again in action shortly after, with a delightful kick just too long for Dan Cresswell to chase. But the winger fielded the Tyldesley clearance from the ensuing lineout and set Hill free, before Cresswell again linked up to find Josh Crtichley on his outside. The number 8 wrong footed his opposition and was over. And from the restart, great work again by Cross allowed Attis to send the home side deep into their own half. This time, Southport’s forwards stole the lineout, and Attis quickly exploited the gap before putting Wright in for his first try for the club.
Despite having played almost all the match with a player short, Tyldesley continue to strive hard all afternoon, and caused Southport problems in possession with a good passage of play which saw Tyldesley recycle well and score in the corner, deftly converted from the touchline. However, Southport returned to the simple rugby that had been so fruitful at the start of the half and again Cross was in the mix, powering through and allowing Dan Whalen to find Rob White on the charge. With Cresswell expectantly in support on his outside, the prop instead stepped inside his man and crashed over the line.
Parity in numbers was temporarily restored, when a Southport player was yellow carded for dissent. However, Southport were still able to find space, Attis this time chipping over the top before regathering the bouncing ball and finding Rei Chambers in support for the long-serving hooker to add another first team try to his tally. A bit of afters saw another yellow card for a Tyldesley player, and shortly after he was joined by a team mate send to the sides for dissent. And before there were more players off the field than on it, the referee signalled the end of the match, allowing Southport to celebrate their first win of the season with a bonus point victory. Final score: Tyldesley 19 Southport 43.