ORRELL LEFT IN LAYBY AS SOUTHPORT IN FAST LANE
Southport 48 Orrell 6 by Mike 'Word' Smith
Southport welcomed visitors Orrell to Waterloo Rd last week determined to build on the positives from a heavy defeat the week before. The large crowd was augmented by a good number of ex-players who were sponsoring the game, and with so many old faces gathered to reminisce, some for whom time had treated better than others, it was the present crop of talent that was to shine in the spring sun.
From the start, Orrell made their intentions of playing a forward based driving game clear, and at first Southport could only respond by giving away a string of penalties, resulting in Orrell helping themselves to three points, and Southport being reduced to 14 men after outside half Dan Whalen was sin binned for one infringement too many by the Southport defence.
However, this only had the effect of coalescing the young Southport team, and they immediately took the game into Orrell territory, gaining a scrum on the opposition's 22. Despite being driven back at the scrum, number 8 Josh Critchley skilfully picked up and charged down the blind side, outfoxing the Orrell defence and having the strength to drive over to score the opening try.
From the ensuing kick-off, Southport were deemed to have passed the ball forward. This time it was Southport's turn to dominate at the scrum, and from a great turnover, Critchley again picked up at the base and outpaced the Orrell backs to score his second in two minutes, converted by Jake McMullen.
It was the pressure that Southport were exerting on the Orrell set plays that gave the opportunity for the next try, when this time a stolen lineout inside the Southport half allowed captain George Baumber to find his second row comrade Mike Dale, who powered through the Orrell defence. Quick ball from Jake Mann found centre Chris Tees in space, and a great out-and-in run saw him under the stick. An exchange of penalty kicks followed just before half time, leaving Southport with a healthy 22-6 lead at the break.
This was how the scoreline stayed for the first 20 minutes of the second half with neither team really dominating. However, Southport always had the ability to up their game and this they did when choosing to kick for the corner from a penalty awarded at the ruck.
From the lineout, a powerful drive saw the pack held up 5m from the try line and this gave Mann the opportunity to run the ball blind before a deft reverse pass put man-of-the-match Critchley in for his third try and reaching for his wallet. Another excellent conversion from McMullen extended the lead.
Orrell now seemed bereft of ideas, and when their outside half decided to kick into the Southport 22, it allowed the impressive Southport backline to counter attack from deep, initialised by a great returning run from McMullen. He found Tees on his inside; Tees found Jamie Bailey in support, and Bailey raced to the line to finish off the try of the day.
Southport were now playing champagne rugby, and minutes later, having been awarded a penalty on the halfway line, Bailey saw the opportunity to tap and go and this time it was his turn to return the compliment and feed his centre partner Tees for him to run the ball over the try line.
There was just time for one more try, when Bailey pounced on a loose ball and ran home from halfway to cap a great performance and well deserved victory.