FIRSTS BOWLED OVER BUT NOT OUT
The 1st XV play its part in a terrific game against Champions-in-waiting Collegiate as befitting the impressive setting in front of a packed pavilion.
Is there a better backdrop for a game of rugby at this level than the top pitch at Aigburth overlooked by the green and white gabled building which simply oozes tradition and character? Backed by an impressive support on the balcony and pitchside Southport went into the game knowing that nothing less than a bonus point win was needed to keep third placed Tyldesley at bay, and to underline their promotion credentials.
In the end it was not to be, but it wasn’t for the want of trying. Classy Collegiate set their stall out taking an early opportunity to grab three points with a drop goal, and as Southport struggled in vain to establish momentum the home side built up what seemed to be an unassailable 21 point lead. But with half time beckoning Southport suddenly sprung to life with a fantastic whippet-like try in the corner by Chris Tees well converted by Jake McMullen from the touchline.
Suddenly at 21-7 game on, and what a game it turned into with Southport matching their esteemed opponents all the way. Whilst Collegiate kept the scoreboard ticking over with a series of converted penalties thanks to their stand-out stand-off, the visitors went about their business in trademark fashion running the ball at pace at every opportunity. And boy did this scare the living daylights out of the hitherto unflappable Collegiate as Jake Mann and then Danny Banks, with a conversion from McMullen, brought Southport within touching distance. It could have got even better when Liam Webb found himself marauding on the wing but for once the ball didn’t stick.
Fair play to Collegiate who reverted to wise old head mode to see the game out in the ascendancy and despite one or two disappointing incidents on the touchline both sets of players were a credit putting on a superb innings to leave the hoards in the pavilion replete.
Coach Bill Nichol was justifiably proud of his young side “First half – injuries galore, two very harsh sin bins, a penalty count definitely going against us and a held up try given by the ref. Before we know it we were 21-0 down, however, true to the spirit of the team we refused to lie down. From that point on we ended up outscoring a very good team by three try’s to two. Heads up, let’s go again and show that spirit with 5 wins to the end of the season”
Thank you to Collegiate for their excellent hospitality at what must one of the best facilities to experience rugby at this level.