MIXED BAG AS LEAGUE SEASON DRAWS TO A CLOSE
By Graham Ellis
Firsts go marching out at Saints, Seconds tame the Terriers and the Thirds mobbed by Ampthill,
Southport Firsts travelled over the water to Eastham on the Wirral on Saturday for the penultimate league game of the season. On a glorious spring afternoon at Malone Field, they played their art with hosts Anselmians in serving up a fourteen try exhibition of running rugby. The problem was that the home side scored ten of them with the eventually winning 58-29.
Thanks to ‘The Saint’ at Anselmians for the following match report:
Within two minutes of the kick-off, Anselmians lost hooker Scott Southwell and the consequent re-arrangement meant that the scrum and lineout did not, initially, function well. Nevertheless, Saints backs were alive to possibilities and a close passing movement down the Southport right flank ended with centre Charlie Hough bullocking over the line. Full-back Iain Taylor missed the conversion. 5-0.
Southport sought to exploit any hesitancy in the Anselmian pack and, orchestrated by stand-off Charlie Attis, pressured the Saints’ eight. A penalty from Attis opened the Southport account and only a bone-jarring tackle by right wing Adam Bramhall prevented a try. It was Bramhall, several minutes later, who seized on a gap in the Southport left and sped away to score in the corner. Taylor’s kick was long, but just missed, and Anselmians led 10-3 after twenty minutes.
It was Saints’ forwards who were setting the agenda. Back-row Nick Lamming was ubiquitous and Niall Cavanagh and Jon Clarke were gaining valuable yards. It was Clarke who scored Saints’ third try ending a neat move down the left. Another difficult kick was missed by Taylor. 15-3.
Saints’ scrum began to get better and a regular supply of ball allowed Taylor to deliver a sublime offload to Hough. Stand-off Andy Cummings continued the move and, as Southport ran out of defenders. Tulima Nonu, having his best game in Anselmian colours, crossed unopposed for a fourth try and a bonus point. Taylor, not having his best kicking day, was unlucky with the conversion. 20-3.
Saints were now on top. A break by prop James Whitelock-Wainwright, released Kellum Friday who clearly enjoyed his try. Taylor hit a post with the difficult kick. A few minutes later, Cummings, having a pivotal role in all Saints’ attacks, fed Bramhall who had drifted off his wing to appear on the left and outpace the cover. The ironic cheers from the home supporters as Taylor’s kick split the uprights were, perhaps, not appreciated by the fullback. At 32-3, approaching half-time, Saints may have thought the game was won, but an intense period of Southport pressure saw them camped on the Anselmian line. Initially repulsed, the visiting forwards finally crossed with Callum Tootle being given the try. A neat Attis kick added the extras, and after, Saints’ wing, Campbell Clayton, was sin-binned, the referee blew for half-time.
Saints were reduced to thirteen men immediately after the restart when Lamming was shown a yellow card and Southport took advantage when, after some effective mauling, Josh Critchley crossed. Attis’ conversion hit a post but, at 32-15, Anselmians were not safe. A neat move started by Southern produced a second try for Hough which Taylor converted and, with Campbell returning and Lamming imminent, Saints led 39-15 and probably thought they had done sufficient.
Southport’s lively left wing, Tom Hill had other ideas. Released early in his own half, he showed skill and poise in dummying two Anselmian defenders and scampered to the line to score a fine individual try. The metronomic Attis converted, and once again the deficit was 17 points.
An incisive break by Saints established a position on the Southport line. A lineout and after considerable pressure, a stray Southport hand was adjudged to have prevented release and a penalty try was awarded. 46-22.
A quick Southport restart was ruled out and Anselmians responded with a flowing move “down the slope” in which Friday appeared twice before James Whitelock-Wainwright scored. Taylor, having found his range, goaled. Anselmians were now in the ascendant and, as Southport tired, a searing break from Sadler allowed Hough a run to the line. Spectators expected a Hough hat trick but the centre was deemed to have fought off a defender illegally and thus became Anselmians third yellow card.
Southport refused to submit and the estimable Hill broke cover, skipped through two tackles and raced away to score his second try under the posts to give the indefatigable Southport side a well-earned bonus point. Attis again converted and, at 53-29, this was surely it?
Not so. Another yellow card, this time for Southport, meant that five players had been binned in what was a fiercely contested, but fair, match. The last few minutes saw Tulima Nonu barge his way over the line to score his second, and Anselmians’ 10th try. Taylor missed the conversion, but Saints had adequate revenge for the 22-57 mauling they suffered exactly a year ago on the same pitch.
From the Southport touchline the game came as no surprise following a familiar pattern for the season in yet again the das recovering admirably from a poor start to more than play their part in entertaining and open game. In truth with the sun shining and a holiday atmosphere as the Anselmian WAGS looked on the team looked for most of the first half as if it was already on the beach until they realised the tide was coming in rapidly. But in true Baywatch fashion help was on hand in the form of the Colts lifeguard rescue service with four of them on the pitch in the second period which brought some respectability to proceedings.
Tom 'Porcelain' Peacock was on hand with his Kodak Brownie to capture the action https://www.facebook.com/tompeacock94/media_set?set=a.10155952024041634.1073741841.600911633&type=3
This Saturday the Firsts have an opportunity to put this right and finish on high when they go to Widnes to pull the curtain down on a season which has left much to ponder but also a deal of hope and optimism.
The Seconds meanwhile signed their season off with a superb 29-17 victory in a feisty local derby against Tarleton again bolstered by a number of Colts one of whom Connor Rylands notched up the winning try, his third in two games. Full credit to Andy Boland and his lads who in winning five out of the last six games to secure a good mid table position, likewise Bryan Henry et al and the Thirds. They had no league game but enjoyed a good run out against Ampthill 4ths.
There is a game at Waterloo Road on Saturday when the Shipwrecks take on Congleton Vets KO 3pm. Lets hope the sun continues to shine.
The only significant changes from the AGM last Thursday are longstanding members and stalwarts Alan Havard (past Captain, Chairman, President, Treasurer & non Exec Director), John Kenny (Hon. Secretary) and Colin Toohey (Club Captain) stepping down to be replaced by Bill Nichol and Jason Keating. The kings are dead, long live the kings!