By Graham Ellis
Mike Smith reports as the Firsts once again fall at the final fence.
Southport travelled away to Hoylake last Saturday looking to avenge an injury time defeat earlier in the season. Unfortunately for the visitors, it was a case of déjà vu as Hoylake proved that lightening can indeed strike twice.
Hoylake opened the scoring only five minutes in, after benefitting from a Southport penalty, and kicking to the corner, before the forwards attacked and after several phases found space to cross for an unconverted try. And the lead was doubled midway through the half after Southport were stripped of the ball from the back of a defensive scrum in their own 22. Hoylake shipped the ball wide, allowing an easy run in on the left wing.
Finally, Southport started to rally, and put together a better period of play, with Sam Cross carrying well. Awarded a penalty in Hoylake’s territory, captain Joe Mawdsley took a quick tap and slick hands saw Tom Hill flying down the left wing. Stopped short, Southport recycled well and with the defence fractured, it was an easy run in for Charlie Attis, before converting his own try. Hill was soon again terrorising the Hoylake defence, attacking from his own 22 before finding Jake Mann in support. However, the last pass went adrift, and Southport were made to pay just before halftime, when Hoylake again patiently built phases of play before eventually breaking through the Southport defence from close out for a lead at the break. Half time: Hoylake 15 Southport 7.
Southport started the second half brighter and had several chances to get behind the Hoylake defence, however unforced errors and wayward passes were their undoing. Billy Nichol, on as a replacement, added some urgency in the centres and made a break through the middle to set up a promising attack. But as the ball was sent wide, it was easily intercepted by the Hoylake tighthead prop, who charged for the Southport line before being taken down before he could go half the distance, suffering cramp for his exertions. And it was a case of ‘anything you can do’ a short while later, as the visitors built pressure in Hoylake’s half, when Southport’s Callum Tootle picked at the base of the ruck before a sublime dummy foxed the defence before the prop powered over the line. The conversion from Attis brought Southport to a point behind.
Hoylake were now visibly tiring, and Southport could sense the tide turning. Several Hoylake penalties provided Southport good field possession, and after attacking runs from Nichol and Hill Hoylake again infringed, giving an easy penalty, converted by Attis, and a two-point lead with minutes to go. But from the restart, once again Southport could not clear their lines legally, and Hoylake sensed a home victory. Given two kickable penalties and playing deep into added time, ‘Lake chose to kick to the corner and from the second, a catch and drive saw the forwards drive over the line, and the home side again snatch a deserved win at the death. Final score: Hoylake 20 Southport 17.
Elsewhere the Thirds put up a gallant effort at Ruskin Park but were left hungry for points going down 3-40. However the score was not a reflection of how well the team played against tough opposition. Once again hats off to the Colts who took part an acquitted themselves brilliantly. Meanwhile on Sunday the Ladies were in action at Sefton and came away with a respectable14-14 draw.
No action on Saturday on the pitch as far as Southport teams are concerned but the club house will be buzzing with wall to wall from 2.15pm Six Nations Rugby as Ireland take on Wales in Dublin followed straight away by Scotland hosting England in Edinburgh. Game on! Get down early for two cracking games on the screens and on Sunday as the Colts complete their league fixtures at home against Caldy KO 2.00pm.