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Southport 1st XV - Match centre

Sat 3 Jan 14:15 - Northern Division - South Lancs/Cheshire Division Two Full time


Mike Smith witnesses the Firsts suffer a disappointing start to 2015 in top-of-the table thriller.

Tyldesley were the first visitors of the year to Waterloo Rd last Saturday, and after a closely fought nine try contest that started tensely and ended up with exciting end to end rugby, went away with a one point win.

The first half was a cagey affair with neither team in dominance. Tyldesley chose to pen Southport back, with their outside half controlling proceedings and kicking for position to tie the home side in their own half. Southport for their own part looked to try and attack from deep, however too many unforced errors handed possession away. With 25 minutes gone, Southport were reduced to 14 men when Gareth Lang was sent to the bin for taking out a Tyldesley player after a quick tap penalty. But the Southport players rallied and immediately took the game into the Tyldesley 22 for the first time in the match. With a good attacking position, Southport lost possession, and Tyldesley’s outside centre chose to counter from deep, and having avoided several would-be tacklers, took to the outside to set up Tyldesley’s first try and a 5-0 half time lead.

With time to regroup, Southport immediately made amends at the start of the second half. From the kick off, a good take by Josh Critchley set Jamie Church loose, and from good recycling, Southport found Danny Banks in his 22. Instead of clearing for touch, Banks saw the gap and pierced the hole in the Tyldesley defence, releasing Jamie Bailey who found Jake McMullen on his outside. McMullen raced deep into Tyldesley territory before a long pass inside found Critchley in support and he in turn found Bailey who was able to gather the ball and cross under the sticks for an excellent try, converted by Jake Mann.

Southport now started playing with some real belief. However after a good passage of play, with Southport on the attack, a stray pass was well anticipated by Tyldesley’s outside centre who intercepted the pass, broke down the left wing, and found his fullback in support to finish off a well taken opportunist try. With the conversion missed, Tyldesley’s lead was only 3 points; however this was soon increased to 8 when their impressive outside half danced through the Southport lines a few minutes later to score a great individual try in the corner.

Southport responded a short time later, with the forwards now rucking well and recycling to provide replacement 10 Dan Whalen with some space. He dinked the ball over the rush defence for Bailey to kick through and ground, and with the conversion added by Mann, the deficit was a single point. But Tyldesley immediately came back and put pressure on the Southport line. With a scrum 5m from their own line, Southport forced the ball back to Whalen who was immediately surrounded. He thought he had grounded the ball over his own line; however the referee adjudged that the ball was still in play and Tyldesley were first to react, pouncing on the ball and awarded a try for their efforts.

Again Southport reacted well, and as the game opened up Bailey found the gap with a blistering run through the middle, before finding Liam Webb in support for a powerful charge to the line, tying in the Tyldesley defence and allowing Mann to feed Critchley for him to crash over from close in. With the conversion missed, Tyldesley were not about to rest on their one point lead, and again took the ball back into Southport territory. But it was again the home side’s undoing that allowed the visitors to prosper when this time from a Southport lineout deep in their own 22, Tyldesley stole the ball and quickly fed their hooker for him to crash over in the corner. Amazingly, having missed the previous five conversions and a penalty, Tyldesley’s outside centre this time converted well from the left touchline and this gave the visitors the cushion of an eight point lead as the game entered the final minutes.

To their credit, Southport never gave up hope and from the kick off put together some of their best phases of the afternoon, running with heart, and dragging the Tyldesley defence across the park before replacement Colin Fearns was held up just short of the line allowing quick ball to give Bailey the chance to cross for his second try. Despite Mann converting, this was to be the last play of the contest and Southport’s first home loss of the campaign. Final score: Southport 26 Tyldesley 27.

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League table

# Team Pl Pts
1. Liverpool Collegiate 26 120
2. Tyldesley 26 111
3. Southport 26 96
4. Oswestry 26 88
5. Dukinfield 26 78
6. Orrell 26 76
7. Ormskirk 26 62

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