Under 14s v Vale of Lune
Southport U14s make it through to the Lancashire Cup Semi Final after a close encounter with Vale of Lune
The U14 Lancashire Cup Quarter Final between Southport and Vale of Lune was a reprise of their group stage match in January which resulted in 10 point Southport victory. Both teams knew they were in for another tight encounter.
The match kicked off in perfect conditions for open rugby. It was soon clear that a large there were a few new faces in the Vale pack which would contribute to an even tighter match than last time out. However, it was a line break by Sam Roberts after 5 minutes that saw him burst through the blitz defence, side step the last defender to score under the posts before converting to put Southport ahead.
The visitors were soon mounting their own sustained attack that culminated in a Vale try in the 10th minute but the kick was a difficult angle so the score remained 7 – 5 to Southport.
Both sides were competing hard in midfield before quick ball down the Southport back line released winger James O’Keeffe to burst down the left flank before being pulled down 10 meters short by good Vale cover tackle. However, centre Elliot Berisha was not far behind and he gathered the ball and powered over to the line to score in the corner. Sam Roberts stepped up to add the extras with a superb kick from the wrong touch line for his left foot to see Southport head into half time 14 – 5 up.
Vale knew they were not out of it and came out hard into the second half. The penalty count was mounting against the home team and it was an indiscretion at the breakdown under the home posts that allowed the visitors to make it 14 - 8 with 15 minutes to play. Southport were putting bodies on the line to defend a slender lead and Chris Seitis replaced the injured Ethan Hart.
Chris Stuttart and Christian Saundry were sent on by coach Gavan to provide some additional weight and power in place of Patrick Crann and Jack Tomkins. Soloman Palmer, in an effort to relieve some pressure from the half backs, picked up from No 8 and stormed nearly the length of the field before being pulled down short by a Vale defender.
Vale worked their way back down to the Southport 22 aided by a mounting penalty count and sent multiple attacks at the Southport line. Despite a resolute defence and a last ditch tackle by Roberts that saw him carried off, the visitors finally broke through on left flank to make it two tries apiece. However, the kick again was out of range and the score remained 14 – 13 to Southport with 1 minute to play!
Home hearts were in mouths as the visitors had all the momentum and were in possession. Mercifully for the home support, Southport stole the ball at the breakdown in midfield, posted it back to the scrum half, and a relieved Jake Howarth kicked the ball off the pitch to the final whistle.
This really was a match that hung in the balance and, upon reflection, it was the kicking prowess of fly half and captain, Sam Roberts that separated the teams. Commiserations to Vale who I am sure will be plotting revenge next season. As for Southport, into the Cup Semi Final against local rivals and current holders Waterloo on March 13th.