'ELL ON VALLIN
Mike Smith gives his off shore account of how Firsts score five try's but suffer the ultimate penalty.
Southport made the long trip away to Vagabonds last Saturday, and despite being greeted by great away support in the form of the aptly named Mann family, ran out of steam and failed to cross the finish line in front.
The visitors started well and were soon two tries to the good. Following a powerful run from Josh Critchley, both teams failed to claim the loose ball, and this gave centre Jamie Bailey the opportunity to seize possession and outrun the opposition and score in the corner. Southport maintained the pressure and a driving maul in the opposition half sent the Vagas pack back and allowed Liam Webb to break from the base. A strong run from captain Joe Mawdsley drew in the defence and this allowed Jake Mann to set his backs going forward, finding Dan Whalen who fed Danny Banks in the centre. Banks drew his man and as he took the contact offloaded over his head to supply full back Tom Peacock who finished well.
However, with a strong wind both conversions were missed, and Vagabonds immediately reduced the lead to three points with a converted try from the restart, after a powerful run from the inside centre found an uncharacteristic gap in Southport’s back line and despite a last gasp tackle from Peacock, was able to get the ball away to his second row team mate in support to cross the Southport try line. And their score was doubled a short time later when from a wheeled Vagas scrum inside Southport’s 22, their number 8 broke and fed his captain and blindside flanker who grounded well.
Southport looked dangerous in possession, led again by tireless work and dominant hard yards from second row Sam Cross, and this proved the case just before half time. After being awarded a penalty near the Vagabonds try line and left touch line, Mawdsley cleverly chose to go wide and great hands beat the scrambled defence and allowed Dylan Norbury to score in the opposite corner. The conversion was again missed, however the score still gave Southport a 14-15 lead as the teams turned round at half time.
With the wind increasing, Southport were pinned back with an early Vagabonds penalty, and after a series of penalties, they increased their lead after good play saw them cross in the right corner, this time the kick being missed. Southport reduced the lead after a rare venture into the oppositions half, when driving pressure at a Vagabonds scrum from replacements Ian Smith and returning captain George Baumber caused their scrum half to fumble the ball. Mann was first to pounce and he found Critchley in support for the number 8 to show quick feet and cross over for an unconverted try.
With time ticking away, Southport now seemed to be finishing the stronger, and regained the lead with minutes to spare when, with both teams reduced to 14 men, Chris Drescher found a loose ball on the halfway line and needed no further invitation to pace down the left wing and into the corner for Southport’s fifth try of the contest and a three point lead. However, Vagabonds were hungry to avenge their close defeat earlier in the season, and with the Southport players flagging, took the gift of two late penalties to calmly kick firstly to level the scores, and, with the final play to take a home win and ensure a long journey home for the visitors. Final score: Vagabonds 28 Southport 25.