U15s v Warrington
Tough opener for Southport U15s at Waterloo Road
Southport U15s welcomed Warrington to Waterloo road on Sunday for their first Lancashire Junior Rugby Challenge fixture of the season.
Having managed a semi-final place in last year’s Lancashire cup Southport find themselves in the top pool for what promises to be a tough but exciting 2016-17 season. Warrington are renowned for their open running skill so Southport coach Bernie Gavan had some tactical issues for his often forwards dominated side. Moving last year’s back row players Sol Palmer and Elliot Berisha to centres meant Southport fans were in for some exciting action.
The game opened to a frankly brutal 10 minutes of play, with neither side giving any ground. Ball was moved quickly out of ruck on both sides but countless tackles meant play was kept between both 22s as Southport and Warrington looked for a break. Warrington line speed eventually broke the stalemate, allowing a small advantage to be turned into points to move the game forward. This change in scoreline seemed to work for the visitors and Southport lost some of their sparkle and conceded a couple more tries during the first half. Southport came back strong towards the end of the half, but failed to turn their last 5 minutes majority possession into points to finish 0 - 24 down at half time.
Despite some tough words during half-time Southport came back with an apparent lack of focus that Warrington needed no invitation to exploit, putting some additional points on the board. This seemed to provide some fire in the home side, however the scoreline did appear to rattle Southport, allowing Warrington to dominate play and use the wind advantage to apply pressure into a game that dropped from its intial high tempo pace.
Southport eventually gathered their strong team spirit to keep ball in hand and stop Warrington bringing their backs into the game, which was commendable. No points for Southport though as Warrington held them at bay in the closing minutes.
Not the best start to the season for Southport but plenty of promise and a good lesson for their future games at the top table. It was clear that when the team worked together and communicated well they were able to match Warrington, who have proved themselves to be at the top level of junior rugby. Southport showed they have the heart and skills to compete against the best. With a little more experience in their new positions and a bit more focus under pressure there is plenty of promise for better results in the near future.