SOUTHPORT TRIUMPH AT FADING SUNLIGHT
Great start to the season for the Firsts as Joe Mawdsley cleans up to secure last gasp win.
George Baumber reports from the front line (or second row to be absolutely correct!)......
Southport kicked off the season away at Port Sunlight with great expectations.
It seemed these expectations would be met when the forwards executed a lineout, released the backs where the rampaging Forest Bailey broke through his opposing centres drew the full back before showing his confidence by rounding him and ignoring the support run of the all action Joe Mawdsley. The conversion was missed but Southport continued to press without finding the killer pass to finish off the moves. This meant that Port Sunlight could start to get a foothold in the game and forcing numerous penalties to put Southport repeatedly back in their own 22.
The Sunlight outside centre missed with his first long range penalty but his next just inside the 22 metre line sailed over to bring the score back to 5 – 3. This seemed to galvanise the away team and utilising the wide spaces with Jake Mann and Danny Banks linking well to release the pace of Dylan Norbury, Chris Drecher and Chris Tees yards were made every time they got their hands on the ball. Southport had a try disallowed but the pressure didn’t stop and eventually Drescher was rewarded for good support running to score a try which was well converted.
With a score at 12 -3 Southport really should have kicked on and won by many more but credit to Port Sunlight for coming back stronger. Their forwards worked exceptionally hard with short drives around the ruck which Southport defended well until the very last play of the half when the openside flanker dived over a ruck to score a try. The conversion was missed and at half time the score was 12 – 8 to Southport
This only lasted about five minutes into the second half. More hard driving by the Sunlight forwards took them deep into the Southport territory and two botched lineouts led to the Sunlight man of the match and number nine scoring a try. An excellent conversion from out wide meant Southport trailed by three points. Mawdsley and Josh Critchley wouldn’t accept this though and started to take the game to the home team.
Bill Coach Nichol demanded the backs be utilised more and with the returning Clark Walton punching holes in the middle of the pitch the tide was turned but the final pass again went amiss when runs from both Drescher and Norbury again couldn’t be finished. It felt and appeared a corner had been turned. With eleven minutes to go Southport were level with Mann converting a penalty to take the three points. All square who would win?
Sunlight were struggling to maintain their form as tiredness kicked in due to and the unfortunate loss of their outstanding flanker with a serious head injury. Southport shifted the ball wide one last time in the dying minutes and casptain George Baumber thought he would break his five year try drought but was held up short only for Bailey to have another try disallowed unfairly. That appeared to be that with a scrum to Sunlight with a minute to go. But the Southport pack nudged the scrum putting pressure on the Sunlight nine to clear his lines. Up popped prop Craig Pacey to block the kick and Mawdsley was there to ground the ball. The try was converted and the match was won 22 – 15.
A hard fought win in a difficult contest that was be expected for the first game of the season between two teams who had finished so close to each other last season. Improvements will be needed for the coming weeks ahead though but in terms of great expectations Southport can be well pleased to pip Port Sunlight at the post.