SOUTHPORT OUTFOUGHT AT OSWESTRY
Oswestry 31 Southport 22. Mike Smith reports:
Southport travelled away to Oswestry last Saturday and came away with a defeat. In a game of the proverbial ‘two halves’, Southport failed to make the most of their first half dominance and must feel that this was a win they let slip away.
Southport started brightly, exerting pressure on the Oswestry back line. From this concerted pressure, Southport were awarded a penalty under the sticks, but instead of taking the 3 points on offer, a quick tap from Danny Banks released Chris Tees to cross for the first score of the match.
Southport’s backs continued to create chances, with Banks breaking the Oswestry line on several occasions. From a solid Southport scrum just inside the Oswestry half, a flowing move saw Tees draw his man, and find full back Tom Peacock in support, who fed the evergreen Chris Drescher for a simple finish. Drescher was not only awarded a try, but also a yellow card for an exchange with an Oswestry player that the referee apparently witnessed, much to the surprise of players and spectators from both sides. This decision had an immediate affect on the contest as Oswestry promptly scored out wide in the very place vacated by the Southport winger.
However the 14 men of Southport still seemed to have too much quality for Oswestry, heaping pressure on the Oswestry line and forcing them to kick out of danger. From one lineout, hooker Calum Monaghan found back jumper Danny Booth, and a catch and drive allowed Dan Whalen to release the backs, allowing Ollie Brown to get on the end of a deft kick from Banks for a converted try and a 7-17 half time lead.
Southport started the second half well and continued to control the game. However a second controversial decision by the local referee changed the course of the game. The awarding of a penalty against Southport’s Sam Cross, who had been pinned down by two Oswestry players, for something the referee said he ‘thought might have happened’ allowed Oswestry to attack the Southport line, and, from another penalty for pulling down a maul, Oswestry crossed for a converted try to close the gap.
Oswestry were now visibly lifted, and their cause was further assisted by another yellow card, this time for Southport’s replacement Rei Chambers for allegedly pulling down a maul. The Oswestry pack now started to dominate the match and a stolen lineout allowed Oswestry’s centre to score a well worked try and take the lead, which was increased shortly later when another penalty and yet another yellow card, this time for Booth, provided an easy penalty kick and a 7 point lead.
The 14 men of Southport however were not finished, and came straight back at the home side, putting together several phases to release Phil Weston to score a well worked try. The conversion from the touchline, which would have levelled the scores, dropped agonisingly short of the crossbar.
To Oswestry’s credit, they were determined to finish the match off, and their burly pack marched back down the pitch, and a driving maul from a lineout near the Southport line sealed a home win.
Despite some key decisions going against them, Southport surely only have themselves to blame for not seeing this match out, and must regroup this week for the visit of an undefeated Ormskirk side to Waterloo Rd next Saturday.