Southport Just Edge a Tight Enounter with Blackburn U14s in the Lancashire JRC
By Stephen Hart
Southport U14s consolidated third place in Pool B of the Lancashire Junior Rugby Competition after defence holds under sustained Blackburn pressure at the death.
Just two points separated Southport and Blackburn going into todays Lancashire Junior Rugby Challenge Pool B match at Waterloo Road and an excellent performance by both teams didn't disappoint.
Despite a confident opening by Southport, it was Blackburn's impressive flanker who showed power, pace and balance to break the home tackle line and open the scoring close enough to the posts to ensure the visitors were able to take a 7 point lead. However Southport soon showed pace and balance themselves as fly half Edward Sinclair converted a try from centre Luke Hart after breaking through and then outpacing the Blackburn tacklers.
With the wind behind them Blackburn were able to secure good territory and patiently built pressure until finally they were able to control a driving maul and, with backs joining to add weight at the last moment, powered over the line for a good team try in the left corner to regain the lead. However, Southport possibly had their best period of the game as half time approached and prop Connor Ellerton finished of an expansive move involving slick handling and great support running by forwards and backs to ensure it was 12 point apiece at the break.
Southport were able to use the elements to their advantage and pinned Blackburn in their own half for the much of the second period and finally took the lead with 10 minutes to play as No.8. Euan Thomas collected a tap penalty and powered through the would be tacklers to score an unconverted try to edge the home team into a 5 point lead.
With the exception of a breakaway by Hart it was all Blackburn in the final phase and they demonstrated a master class in the driving maul from the lineout on more than one occasion. However Southport showed resilience and character in defence to keep the visitors from snatching a last gasp victory despite a number of penalties at the breakdown allowing the visitors to mount several short range attacks.
This was an excellent victory for Southport in a match which could have gone either way and that was played in an excellent sporting spirit. Both sets of coaches agreed it had been an enthralling match and looked forward to the reverse fixture in March when hopefully the worst of the winter weather is behind us.