FIRSTS OFF THE MARK.
With the sun beating down on the freshly cut pitch at Waterloo Rd. the Firsts made hay with club chairman Andrew Carney sponsoring the game bringing with him some welcome support and keeping the bar staff busy.
By Gareth Lang
Southport were in confident mood as the players commitment and competition for places is giving the selection committee sleepless nights. Visitors Oldershaw were full of many familiar faces as the two old foes locked horns once again.
From the kick off Ollie Brown gave Southport good field position with a cross field kick being fumbled by the visitors left winger. From here the Southport forwards showed dominance in the scrum and punching close to the rucks gained ground causing disruption in the Oldershaw defence executing a training ground backs move leaving the winger in space. Unfortunately the final pass on this occasion did not go to hand but the signs were good from the home team and after 10 minutes they had had all the possession and it looked like only a matter of time before the defensive cracks would give way.
But from a fly hack Southport found themselves inside their own half committing an infringement at the ruck and it would be Oldershaw who would have opportunity for first blood as they kicked for goal. The kick was missed and the game returned to Southport domination with the pack on fire turning over possession at every opportunity and Dave Gairn was in an armchair in the scrummage at number 8 and his picking and going was putting the home team on the front foot.
There was a set piece on the half way and the ball was passed to centre Hugh Ellis who to everyone’s amazement he decided to take the ball blind feeding winger Chris Drescher who drew his man and returned the pass to Ellis who was superbly supported by Josh Critchley and his pace was there for all to see as he finished the last 40m of in seconds proving what a good young talent he is. Brown bisected the posts with his conversion. 7-0 to the home team.
The Southport domination would continue though repeatedly they would build up pressure like a bottle of coke that had been shaken up only to release it by infringing with there over enthusiastic rucking or the occasional handling. They managed a marvellous passage of play with Brown crashing in then Clarke Walton and even the twinkle toes Shane Cook choosing to take contact and set up the next phase of possession. The pressure became too much and Oldershaw conceded a penalty close to their line .
From the resulting penalty Southport chose a scrum and from the second phase it would be the irrepressible, evergreen prop John Gillow squeezing his way over the line in what has become a familiar sight for the spectators at Waterloo Rd. The conversion on this occasion went wide of the uprights.
From the kick off in form George Baumber released Matty Astwood in another well executed training ground move with Astwood showing his power making 35 meters avoiding no tackles but again Southport opened that bottle of coke and took the pressure off infringing at the ruck allowing the opposition to clear their lines.
The half finished 12-0 in favour of the home team and a very impressive first forty minutes in many areas.
The second half saw Oldershaw having the better of the first 15 with the home team appearing to return to ill-discipline conceding around 5 penalties and uncharacteristically mis-timed line outs allowing the opposition to creep over for a well-earned try.
Soon parity was restored as Southport began to go through their phases of play and crank up there gears. Brown began to throw the ball around with free abandon and a good take by Chris Tees, who had replaced the injured action man Walton, went through the hands and found its way to Astwood in space. The winger was unable to stop him, the fullbacks attempted tackle was dismissed and with a clean run in for the line the winger appeared forget the necessity for the ball and for no reason he dropped the ball.
His blushes were to be spared soon after as a fine backs move was finished with a superb missed pass from Ellis into the hands of the exceptionally pacey Drescher, who touched down in the corner and a sigh of relief was breathed by all. Final score Southport 17 Oldershaw 5. The man of the match was a foregone conclusion as he is good friends with the Chairman giving out the award so well done Ollie Brown for choosing the right friends. Redraw!!