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Southport 1st XV - Match centre

Ruskin Park
Sat 7 Jan 14:15 - Northern Division - South Lancashire & Cheshire 2 Full time

Ruskin Park 10 - Southport 1st XV 0

Traditionally this fixture produces a narrow home win on whichever ground it is played. Back in September Southport beat Ruskin Park 22-20, so we expected a close game. That is exactly what we got.

Traditionally this fixture produces a narrow home win on whichever ground it is played. Back in September Southport beat Ruskin Park 22-20, so we expected a close game. That is exactly what we got.

The pitch at St Helens looked good, but in fact it was quite soggy under foot, and the ball became difficult to handle. There was a howling gale blowing from end to end, so game became compressed into one half of the pitch, and it was Southport’s luck to be facing the wind in the first half.

Captain Gareth Lang had to miss this game because of a family illness, and Henry Brain came into the squad at lock, with Mike Dale taking over as No 8 and skipper.

Ruskin stared the game by assuming that they could move the ball wide once they were within striking distance, and they looked particularly dangerous with this tactic. It took some well organised defence to counter this, and those two outstanding flankers Dave Gairn and Joe Mawdsley stopped the movements time and time again with bone crunching tackles.

However, the Ruskin attackers were well practiced at ball retention, and it was fully fifteen minutes before Southport were able to get their hands on the ball. Fullback John Sawbridge was able to find some good touchline positions, but too often Southport lost the line-outs, even on their own throw-in, which meant that they were soon back inside their own 22 metre area and defending for all they were worth. Chris Tees and Southport’s left wing was called upon several time to stop potential tries, and he did not fail.

Errors were almost inevitable under these conditions, and after 18 minutes Ruskin took the lead with a penalty goal. In perhaps the only defensive error in the first half, Ruskin scored a good try when their strong no 5 M.Tindall joined a mawl close to the line. He seemed to be held up, but managed to twist out of the arms of the Southport tacklers, and drove over the line. This try was converted, and the teams turned round with the score 10-0 to the home side.

Experienced watchers on the touchline had judged before the start of the game that the wind was worth about 18 points. So a deficit of 10 points should have been reversed. Now Southport had everything in their favour, wind, pitch, players, but they lacked one essential ingredient, the ball. Ruskin Park now reverted to the more conventional approach, and kept the ball close to the scrum, and drove with the sort of co-ordination that we have come to expect from Southport. In fact in the second half Southport were only able to kick effectively downfield twice.

Referee Alan Graham from Manchester society had controlled the game well in the first half, but as the game progressed he began to see the game in a more colourful light. As it moved into the last quarter he decided that Mike Dale had played the ball on the ground, and gave him a yellow card. This was rapidly followed by another yellow card for a similar offence by Andy Boland, and the player count was 15-13 to Ruskin. Then Mr Graham sent off Ruskin’s no 9 M.Cotton, and then their flanker C.Lyon. However, Mike Dale was allowed back on after perhaps only 6 minutes, so the game finished with a count of 14-13 players. Even with this advantage Southport could not get within striking distance of the Ruskin Park half, and so had to return home with zero points.

Gordon Jackson

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Team selection

Team selection has not been published for this fixture yet.

League round up

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League table

# Team Pl Pts
6. Sefton 26 65
7. Dukinfield 26 58
8. Southport 25 52
9. Oldershaw 26 51
10. Marple 26 46
11. Moore 26 42
12. Ramsey(iom) 25 40

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