Southport U14s take the spoils in a chaotic trip to Rossendale
By Stephen Hart
Southport pull away in the second half to finish with a comfortable winning margin but this was only half the story....
This was the first time that this Age Group had travelled to Rossendale and the 60 minute journey up hill and down dale in the pouring rain to East Lancashire felt further than it really was. Eventually all the players and kit made it through but the visitors were late to climb the hill to the soggy pitch to join the home team for two minutes silence to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day after a brief warm up.
Unfortunately, Rossendale are carrying a few injuries an the moment so, when an expected player failed to show, the game kicked off on with 14 players per side and 5 players on the Southport bench. Despite the chaotic preliminaries and the cold and wet conditions, it was the Southport scrumhalf, George Oldfield who opened the scoring in the left corner before a good conversion attempt by Charlie Mallon bounced back off the post.
Whilst Southport had the majority of possession and territory in the opening phase of the match it was the tall right wing of the home team who was able to spot the space left by the missing 15th man and sprint down the wing to score under the posts allowing a simple conversation for Rossendale, twice! Some positional and personnel changes were made and it was Jack Carney, on from the bench to plug the gaps out wide, who was able to score a second unconverted try for Southport to make it 14 - 10 at half time.
Unfortunately, Rossendale sustained injuries to three more players in the second half and the match was briefly reduced to 11 aside before returning back to 12 players each as the errant Rossendale player finally made it onto the pitch. Things were tricky for both sides as they were forced to reorganise the scrum, line out and back line to cater for the different player numbers. Southport were able to ensure all players got some decent match time, although less than expected, due to the short sided teams.
However, it was Southport who appeared to adapt best and in the final third of the match were able to score further tries with a brace for Euan Thomas and one apiece for Charlie Mallon, converted by Edward Sinclair, and Freddie Boardman. The match finished 32 - 14 which seemed a fair result on the balance of play and the number of spilt passes in slippery conditions for the visitors as the try line beckoned.
Both sets of coaches agreed that, now the duck has been broken, we should try to squeeze a return fixture in later in the season when the current Rossendale injury crisis has passed and we can battle it out again in a full sided match.