Ramsey 24 Southport 32 by Mike Smith
Southport continued their good start to the season with a four try bonus point win away to Ramsey.
Despite a delayed flight to the Isle of Man due to fog, the mist cleared to reveal perfect conditions and the Southport team seemed unaffected by their long journey and started brightly. Early pressure by the ‘Port pack, lead by captain George Baumber and orchestrated by scrum half Dan Whalen, saw the Ramsey centres caught offside, and Danny Banks stepped up to confidently strike home the ensuing penalty and secure an early lead.
However, Southport failed to build on their domination, and a mixture of unforced errors, and good positional kicking from the Ramsay outside half, saw Ramsay coming close to opening their own account, only to be thwarted by a try saving Jamie Church tackle. Ramsey did however take the lead a short time later, when the grateful Ramsey right winger intercepted Banks’ pass and ran in from the halfway line, outsprinting Southport centre Jamie Bailey, to the disbelief of Bailey’s stationary team mates.
When Southport did put phases together, they looked dangerous, and one such passage of play saw the Southport forwards and backs combine to put early substitute Astwood over. Sadly for him and his team he was adjudged to have stepped into touch before grounding the ball.
With the game still in the balance, it was Ramsey’s turn to attack their opponent’s try line, and when a Southport player was penalised for transgressing at the ruck in front of the posts, Ramsey took an easy penalty to lead 10-3. There was just time for Southport to restart the match before half time, and a positive kick off chase resulted in the Ramsey receiver being penalised for holding on, allowing Banks to calmly kick Southport’s second penalty of the half.
Half time: Ramsey 10 Southport 6
As the teams turned around, it was evident that the break had given Southport time to refocus, and minutes into the second half, attacking runs by Sam Cross and Josh Critchley allowed substitute scrum half Joe Mawdsley to feed a hungry Astwood, who ran through two defenders to ground in the right corner. Banks proved his accuracy off the kicking tee by hitting the posts with a conversion effort for the 4th week in succession.
From the kick off Southport continued to press. An accurate Mawdsley box kick caused the Ramsey fullback to spill the ball, allowing quick recycling and a pass for Bailey to touch down in the left corner, duly converted by Banks.
Now the Southport pack was in the ascendancy. The front row of Craig Pacey, Liam Webb and replacement Tom Smith were now dominating the young Ramsey scrum, and both Critchley and the outstanding Gareth Lang were stealing plenty of lineout ball. It was from one such Lang steal that the Southport backs demonstrated their quick hands, allowing left wing Chris Drescher to outpace the entire Ramsay back line and score in the corner. Banks added the extras with his second successive touchline conversion. Within 15 minutes Southport had turned a half time deficit into a 10-25 lead.
Southport’s straight running, quick rucking, and link play from back row Danny Booth allowed Southport to keep the pressure on the Ramsey defence. From a scrum, Mawdsley threw a miss pass, and the Ramsey backs must have thought they were seeing double, as Ben Cresswell fed his twin brother Dan to score a well deserved try on his first team debut. Banks demonstrated the quality of his kicking game by again slotting the conversion from an acute angle.
However, Ramsey showed that their young side has great potential and plenty of heart, and they came back at Southport, pouncing on a lose ball from a lineout and recycling for young prop Rory Nicholls to go over for a converted try.
With two minute to go, Southport seemed eager to keep the ball alive rather than close out the game, and a flowing move saw a rejuvenated Tom Peacock draw his man and put in Astwood. Unfortunately, the referee seemed to want to ‘go upstairs’ to confirm the grounding, and, in the absence of Sky Sports cameras at Mooragh Park, instead awarded a scrum 5 to Southport. Ramsey were determined to finish well, and not only kept Southport out from the scrum, but turned defence into attack and scored a consolation try at the death.
Final score Ramsey 24 Southport 32