FOREST ON FIRE!
The Firsts produced a comprehensive victorious performance in their first home game of the season enjoyed by a good crowd. Mike Smith reports.
From the off, the Southport pack were clearly in dominance, and this gave a perfect platform for the Southport backs to make hay in the September sunshine, and a bumper harvest was to follow. The first score came within 5 minutes of the start when from a lineout inside their own half, scrum half Jake Mann fed his backs, and found Jamie Bailey, who cut in and out and carved up the Trentham defence before scoring under the stick. Trentham were given a penalty from the restart which was duly converted, but this was to be their last points of the contest.
Southport showed their ability to attack from anywhere on the pitch, and the next try was a great example of this when, from an advantage played for a knock on just outside the Southport 22, a break from playmaker Danny Banks cut the defence to shreds, and allowed him to stand up the Trentham fullback and find Dylan Norbury on his outside for an easy run in, the try again converted by Mann. Southport continued to exert pressure, and when awarded a penalty for a dangerous tackle on Mann which saw the offending Trentham player yellow carded, captain George Baumber elected to take a scrum. A powerful set piece, built on the solid foundations of front row Craig Pacey, Liam Webb and Tom Smith, allowed Banks to find Bailey who again danced through the defence to score his second.
Even when Trentham tried to clear their lines, Southport were able to take the game back to their opposition, and from a clearing kick, full back Tom Peacock powerfully ran at the Trentham defence, committing several defenders and allowing Banks to spread the play one way, and then cleverly switch the play to find number 8 Josh Critchley on the left wing who demonstrated his blistering pace to score in the corner. The game was practically sewn up before half time when the forwards performed the donkey work from a catch and drive at the lineout allowing the glory boys in for a third Bailey try of the half.
As the teams turned around, Southport immediately made it clear that they were not about to take their foot off the gas, and opened the half with more good work from the forwards, with a powerful run from substitute Jamie Church allowing Jake McMullen, now playing at scrum half, to open up and supply good ball for Bailey to again terrorise the Trentham defence. Having broken the gain line, this time he unselfishly found his centre partner Clarke Walton for him to trundle across the whitewash. Moments later, from a wayward Trentham penalty clearance, good handling this time saw Peacock take his opportunity to finish the move and get his name on the score sheet. Indeed every time Southport had possession they looked dangerous and from another rock solid scrum, Banks found Walton who again put man of the match Bailey in for his fourth try of the game. From the restart, Southport gathered well, and a pick and go from Critchley suddenly found him in open space. Not overawed, the number 8 decided to take the Trentham backs on the outside and outstripped the defence to score under the sticks.
With the result in the bag, the game petered out somewhat in the later stages, and Trentham should be praised for the heart they continued to show throughout. However despite being camped in the Southport 22 for a long period, they just could not break the stout defence, and it was Southport who had the final say, when Critchley capped off a great performance with another long range try, this time form the half way line, stepping around the Trentham fullback to score his third try and ensure there were two jugs for his team mates to enjoy post match in celebrating their first home win of the season.