NORBURY FIELDS FOREVER AS FIRSTS MANN UP ONCE AGAIN
Southport overcome a tricky away challenge to dismiss Marple who had won two of their last three games. Mike Smith does the detective work.
Southport in fact started this contest in the ascendancy, and it wasn't long before the Marple defence was breached. From an attacking lineout Southport began a flowing move across the park. With great interaction between backs and forwards and a powerful run from Sam Cross, slick hands put Chris Tees into the gap, and he drew the last man and found scrum half Jake Mann on the overlap to finish a classy try.
However, instead of pushing home their advantage, Southport instead seemed to rest on their laurels, and this gave Marple a chance to attack the Southport line. Finding space out on the left, it was only the handling of their winger that prevented Marple’s opening try. Moments later and again Marple found gaps in the Southport defence; this time it was the fullback who, with the line beckoning, dropped a pass when a certain try was on the cards. However, Southport failed to respond, and Marple seemed to have more hunger than the visitors, and this eventually told when on the stroke of half time, Marple set a platform from a lineout in the Southport 22 which allowed the outside half to carve his way through the Southport defence to score under the uprights for a deserved 7-5 half time lead.
Southport started the second half brightly, with Ian Smith coming on to add some experience and increase domination at the scrums. But again too many unforced errors saw Southport’s frustration boil over, and this culminated in replacement Gareth Lang being sent to the bin for petulance at the scrum and an easy 3 points for Marple to increase their lead. But for the second week in a row, Southport rose to the challenge of a reduction in numbers and dug in together as a team. From a Marple scrum on the halfway line, the 7 men of Southport drove their counterparts back, and with good turnover ball, simple hands well executed by the Southport backs found Dylan Norbury in space on the wing, and he opened his legs and showed his class, finishing well in the corner.
With the game tied, Southport started to find gaps in the Marple defence. From the back of a scrum on their own 22, Josh Critchley picked and danced through his opponents, only being stopped on the oppositions 22. Despite losing the ball, Southport’s pressure at the resulting scrum caused Marple to give away a free kick. Quick hands found the forwards setting up an attacking position, assisted by Lang now restored to the field and making amends with excellent work on and off the ball. This allowed replacement outside half Dan Whalen to find Banks, who floated a basketball pass into the hands of Jamie Bailey for the centre to score under the posts, converted by Jake McMullen.
To Marple’s credit, they never gave in throughout the whole contest, and they immediately came back at Southport, with their outside half again cutting a great line through the Southport defence, this time shepherded to the corner to score an unconverted try. But Southport’s determination shone through as the game drew to a conclusion, and with their intent set on gaining a bonus point, they played the remainder of the game in Marple territory, spreading the ball wide and stretching the Marple defence. With so much pressure on the home side, and their defence tiring, Mann saw the chance to feint at the breakdown before finding the gap to dive over for Southport’s fourth try and assure victory.
So, despite not playing their most sparkling rugby of the season, Southport again showed their resolve and will to succeed in coming away with the spoils of a 5 point victory, and a job well done. Final score: Marple 15 Southport 22.