Close game sees 1st XV lose out at LSH
For the second week in a row, Southport faced opposition from St Helens last Saturday, this time travelling away to Moss Lane to face the world’s oldest open rugby football club, Liverpool St Helens. Mike Smith reports ...
It was the home side that shone first, with the powerful forwards getting the upper hand at scrum time, shunting Southport off their own put in. With possession, Liverpool St Helens kept it tight, before scrum half Darren Wilson saw a gap and darted for the line. Unable to quite make it on his own, Wilson was supported by winger John Romano, who rounded the last man to open the scoring. Southport tried to respond immediately, and did have a good period of pressure. However, a wide pass was well intercepted by centre Dan Filson, who gratefully accepted the gift and cruised over the line.
And with only 20 minutes on the clock, Saints had a third, after another Romano run took play deep into Southport’s 22. Wilson looked to find a forward going blind, and he fumbled the ball, fortuitously, into the waiting arms of Alex McClurg. The centre needed no further invite to dive over in the corner, opening up a 17-0 lead. But with a quarter of the game gone, Southport suddenly turned up, and with Jamie Church suring up the scrums, Southport began to put together phases of play that had the home side in defence mode. Jake McMullen led from the front, running straight and hard, and managed to break through a tackle before putting Josh Critchley in space. The number 8 ate up the yards, only to be scythed down just short of the line. But with the defence infringing at the ruck, Southport spread the ball wide for Tom Peacock to score in the corner. And, the winger though he had a second shortly after, only to be called back by the home touch judge for a foot on the line. But Southport promptly stole the resulting lineout and again spread the ball wide, this time for Tom Hill to score in the opposite corner, to reduce the lead at the break. Half time: Liverpool St Helens 17 Southport 10.
With their tails up, it was Southport who had the upper hand at the start of the second period And they thought they had secured the first scored of the half, after a lovely interchange from Charlie Attis to Hill and back to Attis with quick hands put McMullen over the line, only for the visitors to be called back for a forward pass. But Southport were causing real issues for the home side, and they could only stop Peacock with a high tackle, resulting in a yellow card being shown. Southport immediately made the most of the numerical advantage, with a cross field Attis kick finding Hill, and then a supporting run from Church eventually allowed Critchley to power over, unstoppable; an Attis conversion levelling the scores.
The 14 men of Saints responded well, and good recycling, assisted by a couple of Southport penalties, saw the home side attacking deep into Southport’s territory. However, just as Southport though they had nullified the attack, stopping captain Wilson short of the try line, the referee awarded a penalty try to Saints side for a high tackle, giving them a crucial lead.
Southport immediately came back at the home side, with Cross and Crtichley continuing to cause issues for the defence. But Liverpool St Helens gained possession deep in their own half and suddenly shipped the ball wide to Romano, who strode down the left wing, outpaced the defence and scored a great solo effort. Southport never gave in, and in the remaining minutes still strived to get something out of the contest. However, the home defence held out, and Southport, despite their efforts, left Moss Lane with many positives but ultimately empty handed. Final score: Liverpool St Helens 31 Southport 17.