FIRSTS IN ORMSKIRK ODYSSEY
Bill Nichol watches his young charges come of age against Ormskirk to bury 10 years of John Winn Cup pain and secure vital bonus-point win.
Southport welcomed local neighbours and rivals Ormskirk to Waterloo Road last Saturday. Following a firm away victory earlier in the season for Southport the gingerbread men were not going to crumble this time around, a storm was brewing and no team was going to be blown away by the other. Ormskirk arrived early to prepare for the game and preparation was going to be key for both teams as the gale force windy conditions was going to play a major factor and tactics needed to be spot on.
Ormskirk Captain won the toss and chose to play into the strong wind no doubt with a plan to limit the score first half and come at the home side with the wind in the 2nd half, the home side wanted the opposite and so the tactics had started.
Southport started strong and the first main encounters were deep in the opponents half, however, the Ormskirk defence held strong and counter rucked at every opportunity. It was 11 minutes into the game when the first break in the Ormskirk defence was exploited by Josh Critchley whose pace outstretched the Ormskirk tacklers as he raced over the line for an unconverted try for the home side.
Southport soon learnt that even a soft kick was going to go a long way in the wind and unless the kicks were smart scrum backs and lost possession was going to benefit the defending side playing into the wind. With the away side continuing to defend strong, Southport play became too intricate and handling errors crept into their game and from one such error Ormskirk made good headway deep into the Southport half and following some good handling and support play the visitors went over for an equalising try. The score at 5-5 and over half way through the first half Ormskirk tactics seemed to be going to plan.
However, firm direction from the sidelines and lead by the captain Southport were soon back down the opponents half and with a more direct play with ball in hands and quick recycles in the rucks the home side started to see the opponents defence crumble and two further try’s by Jamie Church and Forest Bailey with the latter try converted by Jake Mann put the score at 17-5 to Southport. The home team still looking for more try’s and the Ormskirk defence digging in for the half time whistle Southport took a late penalty kick converted by Jake Mann to make the half time score 20-5.
Half time team talks over and tactics firmly drilled in, did the home side have enough points to win the game?
It was 3 minutes into the 2nd half and Southport playing into the strong wind showed there intent to work the ball into the opponents half and following a good passage of support play through backs and forwards it was the ever dangerous Forest Bailey who crashed over for his second try of the game and extend the lead to 25-5. With 35 minutes still for Ormskirk to mount their attack on the home side this had the large crowd on edge and could such a young side hold out and remain disciplined in the tactics and structure.
And so Ormskirk came and they huffed and they puffed but they could not blow the home team defence down and with strong defence, line pressure on the visitors backs and hard yard possession play in the channels all eighteen players executed brilliantly and it was the gingerbread men left to pick up the crumbs at the end of the game.
Final result Southport 25 Ormskirk 5. The John Winn trophy back in the hands of the home team and back on display in the Southport clubhouse.
A Trojan effort!