SOUTHPORT WILD CARD WOE
Collegiate 15 Southport 0 by Mike 'Word' Smith
Southport travelled away to promotion-chasing Liverpool Collegiate last Saturday looking to avenge the heavy home defeat of earlier in the season in front of a large home crowd.
From the kick off Collegiate were keen to impress both the crowd and themselves on the Southport defence, and immediately took the game into Southport's half. Southport were on the back foot, but a lineout in their own 22 provided an opportunity for them to clear their lines, with a clean take by number 8 Josh Critchley, only for him to be dangerously taken out in the air by the Collegiate forwards. A whistle blast from the Liverpool referee ensued, but inexplicably the decision was a free kick to Collegiate, which was quickly tapped and fed to the Collegiate centre who crashed over for the opening try.
Minutes later, Collegiate extended the lead after being awarded a penalty at the scrum. With Collegiate having the feed, Southport's tight eight drove them back at a rate, and with Collegiate's scrum half under pressure, his opposite number Jake Mann saw the opportunity for an interception, narrowly missing the take and knocking the ball on. However, the referee decided that this was a deliberate action, and the ensuing penalty was successfully converted by outside centre Chris Lloyd.
Southport immediately took the game back at Collegiate, taking their chance to venture into the oppositions final quarter. However poor retention at the breakdown allowed Collegiate to turn the ball over and kick Southport back into their own half, and after another two turn overs, suddenly Collegiate were in Southport's final quarter. With Southport's defence in disarray, Collegiate spread the ball wide and a good run in from right winger Sam Holliday produced a try in the corner, converted by Lloyd, for a 15-0 lead within the first twenty minutes of the match.
This seemed to provide the wake up call that Southport needed, as there now seemed to be more urgency in their play. However their efforts were again thwarted soon after when with another Collegiate scrum being driven back, Mann was again deemed to have deliberately knocked the ball on, and was given a yellow card for his troubles. Left with a man down, it took some stout defence for Southport to keep their opposition out till half time.
As the teams turned around, Southport clearly believed that, although possibly lucky still to be in the match, this was a game clearly there for the taking. Now Southport were putting together several phases of play, and centre Jamie Bailey broke the Collegiate midfield several times. However try as they might, Southport couldn't buy a score, and even having crossed the line, captain on the day Danny Booth was adjudged to have been held up over it. With decisions going against them, the task was made harder with a further yellow card for Booth for an alleged stamp, and a yellow card for Matty Astwood, turned red for decent. For their own part, Collegiate created little, however their defence was strong and held out for a scoreless second half and a home win.
Next Saturday, Southport visit local rivals and league leaders Ormskirk. This match will herald the return of captain George Baumber, who missed the Collegiate encounter due to the birth of his fourth son, Matthew. Southport RFC would like to send their congratulations to George and Sally and the family, and special thanks for their efforts in producing a team of rugby players for the future of the club!