Southport U14s Run a Close Second to Lancashire JRC Leaders Sefton
By Stephen Hart
Southport U14s put in an excellent performance at a Windy Waterloo Road but not quite enough to match a strong Sefton outfit.
Southport kicked off on a postless pitch and with winds gusting at 45mph in their backs knowing that only a top performance would be good enough against a Sefton side that had scored 7 tries against them earlier in the season.
The visitors made a confident start and it was a full 5 minutes before Southport were able to win the from the ball back from the kick off. However, once they had possession, they were able to work up field and it was flanker Ben Hunt who opened the scoring to put the home team in front after 11 minutes.
Both teams battled against the wind and neither sets of backs were able to pass the ball as crisply as usual and the Sefton defensive line speed prevented Southport from kicking for territory and making the most of the elements. Sefton used their forwards to carry the ball against the wind and this tactic led to a pair of short range tries before half time.
However, the half time talk from the coaches was positive as the team were playing well with strong tackles and high work rate keeping the match competitive. Never the less, a 5 point deficit looked a tall order, with a feeling that the home team had not made enough of the favourable conditions in the first half.
Things looked bleak after Sefton scored another try of the within three minutes of the restart after forcing Southport into a handling error on their own line. But a switch of tactics followed and Southport abandoned their usual expansive game in favour of keeping the ball in the hands of their dynamic pack.
Conner Ellerton, the Southport loose head, charged forward at pace on several occasions and finally scored in the left hand corner after some electric pace before Southport gained the ball back in their own half and Luke Hart ran the length of the field in what appeared to be slow motion against the wind to bring the scores level with 5 minutes to play.
But Sefton have developed the winning habit this season and were able to win the match with a good team try after some sustained pressure on the Southport line. Whilst disappointed not to get anything out of the match, the Southport players and coaches were pleased with the performance and running Sefton so close.
Special mentions to Jake Lawton, Leo McEvilly and Zak Day-Johnson for some text book tackling and the rest of the Southport pack which carried the ball hard against the wind which helped keep the second half even despite the gale force winds in their faces.