THE HISTORY BOYS!
The u15's made history on Sunday morning in beating last season's winners Manchester in thrilling semi-final of the Lancashire Cup.
Barry Roberts reports on how the side became the first-ever Southport RFC Junior side to reach the final of the County's flagship trophy
With the sun shining and Spring very much in the air, hopes were high that a feast of rugby would be served up by two in-form sides. The crowd would not be disappointed!
Straight from the kick-off, nerves were evident with both teams being penalised for over exuberance at the breakdown. Southport settled the quicker with ball in hand though and released one of their wingers, but he held up over the whitewash by hosts clearly determined to retain their trophy.
The visitor's forwards now began to test Manchester's defence with several crash-ball phases, before a neat offload into the safe hands of Southport's No. 8 powerhouse gave him an opportunity, despite limited space, to bulldoze his way across the try line, taking 3 defenders with him!
The hosts, lifted by the vocal home support, progressed their way into Southport's 22 straight from the re-start, where they created a two-man overlap and a try their pressure probably warranted looked inevitable. But Southport's captain had other ideas, somehow managing to cover the play and hold the ball up over the try line
Buoyed by going close, Manchester now tested Southport's defence to the full with phase after phase of attacks. The defence were more than up to the challenge and eventually turned the ball over before moving swiftly up to the host's 5m line, only for an uncharacteristic mis-placed pass to release Manchester's winger. As he sprinted down the touch line without a Southport player in sight, a length of the field try looked certain, but this time it was the turn of Southport's No. 10 to somehow cover the ground, make the tackle and turned the ball over
Southport now started to exert endless pressure only for penalties and passes deemed forward preventing a further score. But carry after carry from Southport's impressive pack eventually resulted in the outside centre crashing through some tiring tackles to score under the posts
The second period seemed to be played at an even faster pace and the hosts struggled to contain the now rampant attacks by the visitors. One passage of play created an overlap in the corner, only for one of Southport's forwards be halted by a try saving tackle. To Manchester's dismay, however, Southport's quick thinking inside centre gathered the ball and dived over the whitewash for Southport's third try, which was followed by a conversion Jonny Wilkinson would have been proud of!
Next came the killer blow to the hosts. Immediately from the re-start the visitor's No. 10 gathered the ball and gave a deft pass to Southport's silent assassin. Taking the ball at pace, he carved his way through Manchester's defence, evading the grasping hands of Manchester to score under the posts
Manchester's pride now came to the fore and rather than buckle as many teams would have, they stood up and took the game to Southport with a period of sustained flowing rugby. But it was just not to be for last season's deserved Cup winners and they could find no way through Southport's defensive wall. A turnover ball eventually released the pressure, before Southport saved the best to last and scored a try of the highest quality. Breaking from their own 22 with swift hands and excellent support play, they covered the virtual length of the field in seconds to cross the line under the posts for a fifth try
Well done to both teams for serving up such a spectacle; it was a great advert for Junior Section rugby in Lancashire and thanks too to the referee for excellent officiating
Manchester, after showing great sportsmanship at the final whistle in wishing the victors well for the Cup final, will now lick their wounds and re-group over the summer and they will, once again, be a force to be reckoned with in 2016/17. The history boys of Southport though will travel to Fylde RUFC on 24 April to meet old rivals LIverpool Collegiate, where they will hope to write themselves further into the history books of Southport RFC Junior rugby by winning the Lancashire Cup for the first-time ever. Good luck lads!