GINGERBREAD MEN CRUMBLE
Fitter, Faster, Stronger Southport wipe memories of last season clean, with a hard fought battle against local rivals Ormskirk. Dave McCaughean and George Baumber fill us in.
Southport RFC 1st team serve notice of intent as they defeat local rivals Ormskirk in a tightly fought contest away from home.
Ormskirk went into this local derby as favourites as they welcomed Southport Green Lane on a warm autumnal Saturday afternnon.
Two undefeated teams separated by one place in the league last season but twenty points and two heavy defeats meant Ormskirk were firm favourites.
But Southport this season, under the coaching team of Nichol and Smith are faster, fitter and focused on a game plan that forces the opposition to play out of their comfort zone.
Buoyed by positive results away at Tyldesley and Port Sunlight the young Southport squad approached the tie - determined to claim the spoils, and, overtake Ormskirk in the league table.
Captain Baumber – with defeat at this fixture last year still a bitter memory, called his team to stretch every muscle and sinew to erase that memory.
Whistle, Kick Off and Ormskirk flew at Southport with great alacrity, putting them under great pressure with some clever forward work and good movement from their backs - Chris Tees was put under some very early tests with a few clever kicks in behind him and was able to prevent any early tries for the home team flying winger – Hudson.
Southport ground themselves up the pitch but as you would expect in a derby both teams were testing the referee which resulted in both sides giving silly penalties away. Ormskirk edged the first score with an easy penalty in front of the posts.
This Port squad are closely knit and determined and were not to be deterred.
Capitalising on an opportunity for “safe boots” McMullen to slot a penalty to bring the scores level.
This was followed with more arm wrestling by both teams in and around the halfway line with numerous turnovers and more penalties disturbing the flow of the game. Who would crack first ?? The next mistake could determine the result and in a key moment of the match and role reversal from last season, the Ormskirk centres spilled the ball allowing the Ports outside centre Jamie Bailey the opportunity to kick ahead, scoop up his own kick before slaloming from right to left throwing the covering defence into disarray. He then drew the fullback and gave a pass to winger Phil Weston. Twenty metres to go, two Ormskirk wingers to beat, but Weston had the pace and the nerve to score the try with a cool finish. McMullen converted 2 and Southport held the advantage.
Both sides lost players to the sin bin for illegal play in the ruck.
Ormskirk used their advantage through their forwards who opened space for from left to right which enabled their powerful outside centre to touch down in the right wing. Conversion missed ! As Lang returned to Southport, and the Ormskirk flanker sat out his ten minutes, McMullen missed the penalty kick.
Baumber decided to put 14 man Ormskirk under real pressure. Opting for the harder option of position up the field and not an attempt on goal bore fruit. A solid lineout and drive by the Port forwards was rewarded by aother penalty. Kick, Lineout, catch and drive and after making 40 metres over the course of the 3 penalties, Josh Critchley crashed down which was converted by McMullen for a 8 – 17 lead at half time.
Half time team talk – eliminate mistakes and remain composed. But Southport smelled victory and overwhelming passion gave Ormskirk chances shortly after the 2nd half kicked off.
Credit to the Ormskirk skipper at scrum half taking a quick tap, who then presented the outside centre with his second try of the match. This time it was converted bringing the score back to 15 – 17.
How would Port respond? With their best play of the game that’s how !
The forwards sensed they had an edge and a massive maul from the halfway line was felled two metres out. But having sucked so many Ormskirk defenders in, the ball was moved well by Atherton to Whalan who in turn fed the on- rushing Bailey who went straight through the middle of the Ormskirk centres for a score by the posts again converted. You Beauty !!
The game was stretched with only 10 to play. Tight Turnovers and penalties continued but Port found some more resolve and a ‘recharged’ Webb returned to throw consistently which enabled the forwards to eek out territory and wind the clock down.
Final whistle - Southport boys smiling and vanquished but valiant opponents Ormskirk were magnanimous in defeat.
Ecstatic Southport skipper George Baumber said “ Credit to Ormskirk for taking it to us. The boys played well today in parts and are indefatigable ! – but we need to eliminate mistakes and errors which could have cost us the game. Thanks to all our fantastic supporters for keeping us going in the last 10 minutes today !”