WHY BUY A BOOK WHEN YOU CAN GO TO THE LIBRARY?
By Graham Ellis
Watching the Southport First XV these days is like rummaging through a library, sometimes a Horror Story, others All Action Thrillers.
The Waterloo Road Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society has experienced both in the two games leading up to the Collegiate fixture and really didn’t know what to expect.
But the synopsis had all the makings of science fiction with the game hugely important to the immediate time travels of both teams. Collegiate arrived propping up the table having lost all their 7 games so far in this ultra-competitive league. However by way of a sup plot the closeness in most of their score lines suggested the team is better than its position portrays. For their part Southport were smarting from a thrashing away at Glossop the week before which left them hovering just above the relegation zone. So both needed an all-important win to get back on trek.
But the manuscript on the day from a Southport perspective was more of a compendium beginning with an explosive paragraph to whet the appetite followed by a comfortable read as the unspectacular storyline unfolded nicely towards half time. Then Collegiate ripped up the draft to produce a shock end to the first chapter which set the scene for second which was hard on the eyes. But like all good stories there was to be a happy ending. In short, not a classic and certainly one to put back on the shelf, done and dusted.
The story? Winger Tom Peacock finished off a glorious piece of flowing rugby right from the kick off with Jake Mann kicking the conversion to get the home side off to a flyer 7-0 up, barely a minute played. Collegiate battled their way back into contention but could only muster a penalty for their efforts but at 7-3 the game was evenly balanced, Southport were having more of the territory and crucially and threatened a cutting edge but far too often play broke down through unforced errors and the referees decisions.
But patience is a virtue and was duly rewarded when Chris Mayor chalked up his second try in successive home games, this time Mann’s conversion attempt rebounding back to the pitch. It seemed to matter not when soon after Danny Banks broke the defensive line twice. The first was disallowed for crossing but the second under the posts did count with Mann this time adding the extras. At 19-3 Southport were easing to the break and a renewed assault in the second half. However, the plot completely changed in the last play when the way team breached a slumbering defence and added the conversion.
At 19-10 the second half now became another story. And it was not a pretty one as Southport struggled to reassert themselves and Collegiate sniffed blood. If they had got the next score it may have proved crucial to the outcome of the game. However stout Southport defending kept them at bay, and as in the first half as the game wore on the home side looked the more likely but just couldn’t apply the text book finish. That was until, to neatly bookend the first minute, Dan Cresswell penned the last lines to power over in the far corner with Mann converting. Final score 26-10 this try also securing a four try bonus. On paper a win and 5 points to move up the table is a good read. In reality Southport made hard work of it so plenty to work on if they are to get anything out of the game at second to bottom Hoylake on Saturday.
But there is plenty of ink in the pot and a heathy spirit to build on including a quiet but encouraging home debut performance from newcomer Dominic Allen at second row who will come more to the fore as he finds his feet. Man of the match though was the redoubtable Jack Parker at inside centre with a Heathcliff of a game, brooding and untameable.