Southport 31 Dukinfield 7 by George 'Ball Point' Baumber
Southport first team signed off their season with a victory but did not quite reach the high standards expected by the coaching team of Bill Nichol, Mike Smith and Daz Hill. This shows the strides the team has made as previous seasons a 31 - 7 victory would have more than satisfied the watching patrons on the final game of the season.
The delayed kick off due to Dukinfield kit issues didn't seem to disrupt Southport initially as the forwards made big inroads into the opposition 22 before Mann released the backs to take on the baton. The Dukinfield centre flew out of the line forcing Whalen to take the ball forward before the excellent James Bailey ran an excellent line to cross the whitewash without having a meaningful finger placed on him. McMullen kicked the points for a 7 - 0 lead
Perhaps everyone then thought this would be a formality after that but this wasn't to be the case as Dukinfield came back hard and a few passages of play and needless penalties by Southport led to Dukinfield crossing the line themselves and converting via a drop goal to tie the scores with less than 10 minutes on the clock.
That this would prove to be the last meaningful passage of play by Dukinfield for the game and this sums the match up and perhaps would be a regret for the Southport team to not have pushed home their superiority with a wider winning margin. The team let themselves get sucked into verbals and playing a game that allowed Dukinfield to slow the game down and turn it into a set piece display for all those watching.
However when Southport did string some passages of play together they always looked like scoring. Chris Tees who has had a fine season this year capped his season off with his 10th try in the 21st minute. The backs showing great handling and pace to create the space for Tees to finish on the left wing. Considering the blustery conditions Jake McMullen will be very satisfied with the difiicult conversion from near the touchline.
Another 15 minutes of knock ons and misplaced passages insued before Whalen continued his impressive run of form playing at fly half to score which was again converted by McMullen to give us a half time score of 21 - 7.
The coaches demanded more composure and ruthlessness from the team and this seemed to inspire the team and Danny Booth especially on his final first team appearance for the club before setting off for pastures new in New Zealand. Booth started the move on the right handside of pitch around the halfway line and then was quick enough to recover and support Chris Tees on the left wing carrying over a couple of defenders with him. This time the kick was missed and all the patrons willed the team on to better things in the second half.
The final try of the season arrived in the 56th minute and it was the ever green Lang who forced his way over the line unfortunately it wasn't converted and the match petered out but most people would agree the season has been one of great progression with the style of play utilising the pace and guile of the backs resulting in 3 of them Tees, Bailey and top try scorer Chris Drescher all getting into double figures for tries this year.
Competition in the squad will be intense next year so watch this space next season could be even better.