FIRSTS SHOW ASHTON NO MERCY
Southport welcomed Ashton on Mersey to Waterloo Rd, a team who were looking to avenge a close home defeat from earlier on in the season
As Mike Smith records though Southport has grown in stature since that contest and this outing demonstrated their development in all departments.
Southport started the game by putting together a long series of phases, dragging their opposition across the turf, and this eventually allowed Danny Banks to find the space through the middle, and not quite reaching the line himself, found Jake McMullen in support for the centre to open the account, converting his own try. If the first score was a team effort, the second was a superb piece of individual skill from Dylan Norbury, who gathered the ball on the halfway line, stepped in an out, and then stepped on the gas to coast across the line and score under the sticks.
A third try followed shortly after, when a solid Southport scrum in the oppositions 22 gave a platform for the backs to attack, and good recycling saw hooker Liam Webb pop up and pop over in the corner. And the bonus point was guaranteed within the first 30 minutes when from another scrum this time on the Ashton 10m line, scrum half Dan Whalen found Banks and he found Danny Booth on his shoulder. With the last man to beat, Booth unselfishly sent a pass out to fellow back-rower Josh Critchley for the number 8 to score under the posts. Southport added one more try before the break, with Jamie Bailey keen to get in on the act. The centre took the ball at pace inside his own half, broke through two would-be tacklers and put on the afterburners to outpace the defence and score under the posts, again converted by McMullen. Half time Southport 33 Ashton on Mersey 0.
With a half time request for more of the same, Southport duly obliged and started strongly with powerful runs led by captain Joe Mawdsley and assisted by Lancashire’s Sam Cross, Gareth Lang and Colin Fearns, on as an early replacement for the injured Jamie Church. When Fearns was stopped short of the line, a driving maul sucked in the defence and allowed Banks some space to emphatically break the line and his season’s duck. Like the proverbial buses, a second Banks try immediately followed, after great work by Lang at the breakdown and powerful runs from Chris Drescher and Booth, allowing Banks to get on the end of the move for a gentle saunter over the whitewash.
Not wanting to be outdone, Bailey then added two further tries to the tally in quick succession. The first came after great link work between Banks and McMullen, allowing Bailey to finish well. The second came after excellent team play culminating in a penetrating Tom Peacock run, and when the fullback was stopped just short, Bailey was on hand to finish the move.
Despite being outplayed, Ashton continued to strive all afternoon, utilising an effective driving maul to gain valuable yards, and opted to convert a consolation penalty to get on the score sheet as the game entered the final phases. However it was Southport who had the last say, when from the restart Ashton spilled the ball, and Bailey was on hand to pick up and dance through the defence to score his fourth try of the match.
Southport’s final try came courtesy of the powerful front row of Dan Aindow, Liam Webb and Tom Smith, who drove their opposition off the ball, and allowed replacement Jake Mann at scrum half to counter attack. The ball was quickly shipped to Bailey who this time drew his man and passed to a patient Drescher for the winger to score in the corner and cap an excellent team performance. Final score Southport 69 Ashton on Mersey 3.