Southport welcomed Dukinfield to Waterloo Rd looking to avenge their only defeat before Christmas this season against a well organised team.
Mike Smith tells the tale.
Despite Southport starting brightly, it was the visitors who took first spoils when after having been held up over the Southport line, they maintained the pressure on the home side who eventually yielded a penalty which was converted. And Field added to their lead shortly after, when having marched up the field after a series of penalties, attacked down the blindside from a lineout in the Southport 22. Despite a solid defence, the ball spilled in the tackle and fell to a Dukinfield forward who was able to gather and score in the corner.
With half an hour gone, Southport eventually troubled the scorers with a well constructed try after a simple lineout take by Josh Critchley created clean ball for Danny Banks to attack the Dukinfield midfield before a trademark overhead offload in contact freed Jamie Bailey to finish under the posts, converted by Jake McMullen.
But Dukinfield, undefeated since Christmas, had the bit between their teeth, and increase their lead five minutes later when Southport failed to deal with a catch and drive at the lineout. And in the final minute of the half, Dukinfield made Southport’s second half challenge an uphill struggle when after a clean lineout take, they attacked Southport’s try line. Good work from the Southport forwards turn over possession, however the relieving clearance kick was well charged down by Dukinfield and the loose ball fell kindly to a prostrate Dukinfield forward who was able to offload to a team mate to score in the corner. Half time Southport 8 Dukinfield 20.
At the start of the second half, it was a rejuvenated Southport side that took to the field. From the kick off, Southport took play right, with Jake Mann now at full back piercing the defence, and being stopped short Dan Whalen at scrum half then marshalled his forwards as they attacked the try line, before finding Gareth Lang on his inside for the number 8 to crash over. And Southport immediately added to their tally from the restart as Dukinfield threw a loose pass which was pounced on by captain Joe Mawdsley who kicked through. After a great chase, Southport recycled well and this supplied good ball for Bailey to run at the defence, break through two would-be tacklers and score his second try.
With the conversion missed and a point down, Southport were still very much in the ascendancy and again took play into the Dukinfield red zone. From an attacking lineout, Banks took the ball on, and a penetrating run from replacement Craig Pacey checked the defence and allowed Southport to spread the ball first wide on the left, and then back to the right to find Chris Tees in space and the winger needed no further invitation to accelerate down the wing and score in the corner, well converted by McMullen. And when playing with such dominance, Southport showed they could score from anywhere on the park after nearly gifting Dukinfield a try scoring pass on their own try line. Southport scrambled in defence and then turned over ball which was quickly shipped to Dylan Norbury. The winger sped to the halfway before finding Whalen in support and he drew the fullback and found McMullen who managed to outrun the last defender and finish a length-of-the-field try.
However to their credit, having been outplayed for the first 25 minutes of the second half, Dukinfield never gave up the ghost and their powerful pack were a handful all afternoon for the home side. With minutes left, Dukinfield were awarded a penalty try after Southport were adjudged to have collapsed a driving maul, and this set up a tense finish for the home side and an onslaught from the visitors at the Southport try line, and it was with relief that the Southport faithful heard the final whistle to signal a hard fought win. Final score Southport 31 Dukinfield 27.