SOUTHPORT ENDURE BITTER TWEET DEFEAT
Ormskirk 43 Southport 5 by Mike Smith.
On the first day of spring and with perfect rugby conditions, Southport made the short trip last Saturday to face league leaders Ormskirk. With the pre match entertainment of open flowing rugby being provided by the mini sections from both clubs, and with large numbers at the club to celebrate Ormskirk's 'Blue and Green' day'. Sadly it turned out to be more of a 'Black and Blue' day for Southport's senior team as, banished to the ignominy of the old changing rooms, they then endured another unpleasant experience at the hands of their local rivals.
It was Ormskirk that seemed to have the greater desire from the first whistle, and they immediately set up camp in the Southport half. Under pressure at the lineout, Southport failed to find their man inside their own 22, and from the stolen ball, Ormskirk found their outside centre McCarthy who promptly walked through three missed tackles to score under the sticks.
Southport responded well, and took the game into Ormskirk territory, earning a lineout themselves 5m from the Ormskirk line. However, the ball was knocked back and as the Southport pack stood and watched, Ormskirk were first to react and kicked the ball through, following up with a good chase. Under pressure, the Southport defender threw a clearing pass which was intercepted by Ormskirk's second row Davidson, who then showed a great turn of pace to outstrip the chasing Southport defence and score a great solo effort in the corner.
Minutes later, and yet another interception allowed this time centre McCarthy to run in for his second try, duly converted. Ormskirk's fourth came just before half time, when good movement off the back of a powerful scrum released full back Lambie to sprint for the corner. A great cover tackle from replacement Tom Peacock seemed to have stopped the attack short; however Lambie was allowed by the referee to return to his feet to score. Southport however had little complaint, having gifted three tries to their opposition in the first period.
The second half started no better for the visitors, with the Southport pack being driven back at a five meter scum, allowing the Ormskirk number 8 to set up a charging Gorst, and the burly prop crashed over from nearly a yard out.
Despite the scoreline, Southport were showing some promise in possession, and a great run from number 8 Josh Critchley set up a chance for the Southport backs to unleash their skills, and great handling saw winger Chris Tees over in the corner. In fact, Southport played most of the second half in their opponent's territory and had chances to reduce the deficit with several penalties awarded in the Ormskirk 22. Indeed at times the home defence was reduced to desperate measures evidenced by a succession of yellow cards. However, with their backs up, whenever Ormskirk did get an opportunity, they were clinical in their finishing, and two late tries, one for their sophomoric winger and another for prop Purcell, sealed a fine win.
Hurting as they were the Southport squad graciously applauded as the victors deservedly raised the John Winn Cup but as ever this was not enough as the spectre of irresponsible use of social media reared its ugly head yet again. However, this will only serve to spur the youthful 'Port team on for the final four games of the season with a top-five finish to aim for and the promise of experience gained and good times ahead.