BIG CATCH SLIPS THROUGH THE NET!
A second trip up the coast to the Fylde and a second narrow defeat for the 2s as they were narrowly defeated by a big, strong Fleetwood XV.
Dave 'das boot' Atherton reports
After a long drive to the ground, a good warm up from coach Bernie Gavan had the ‘Port boys ready to go and they were off to a flyer when a fumble from the kick off led to a few phases of possession and eventually a penalty. With it being early in the game, and within range, David Atherton stepped up and slotted the ball through the uprights giving Southport an early 3-0 lead.
However, the quick start was short lived and the big Fleetwood back line began to wreak havoc with the good ball they were getting from a dominant Fleetwood pack. With individuals missing one on one tackles Fleetwood were making headway and soon scoring tries and after 25 minutes had built the lead to 17-3.
At this stage, Southport switched back on and soon began to cause problems of their own, with the centre pairing of Chris Tees and Chris Whalley causing the Fleetwood back line some problems with their lines of running. However, despite all this pressure the 2nds couldn’t add to their tally and turned round with the score remaining 17-3 to Fleetwood.
The talk at half time was to keep the work rate up and keep feeding the backs where the back 3 of Adam Atkinson, Tom Smallwood, and Ryan Bailey were starting to go outside their men and cause serious problems.
The half time instructions were followed to the letter and Southport soon had their first try when the ball was spread wide, after a number of phases of forward play, for Atkinson to score in the corner. 17-8 and the comeback had begun.
The next notable moment was one nobody wanted to see. With ‘Port pressurising the Fleetwood line, the ball was spread from a ruck where a Fleetwood player decided to punch Tom ‘TJ’ Johnson in the face whilst on the floor, leaving him semi-conscious at best. Tom Smallwood ran in to protect his team mate and a small scuffle broke out before the referee managed to gain control again. Unfortunately, the referee had been looking the other way and missed the entire incident. However, great credit must go to Fleetwood who took the matter into their own hands and quickly substituted the guilty player, and later informed him that he would no longer be welcome at their club.
After this enforced break, Atherton called for a tap penalty and spread the ball from one wing to the other, with forwards and backs involved, ending in prop Rob White bundling over in the corner. Again the conversion was missed but at 17-13 Southport were really back in the game.
With 20 minutes to go the 2s were pushing hard and looking dangerous all across the field. The forwards, led by Liam Webb, James Smallwood and Kristian Griffiths, were recycling well and punching holes in the defence leaving quick ball for Alex Hughes to feed his backs. This play meant that it wasn’t long until another try was scored, this time by Chris Tees who skipped past a couple of defenders to dot down in the corner. This time, after all the practice (please score nearer the posts lads), Atherton was able to convert and Southport now had a 3 point lead, 20-17.
With just 10 minutes to go, Southport extended that lead further when James Smallwood scored in the opposite corner. Atherton again converted and with a 10 point lead, Southport looked like they were going to move away further. However, once again the referee intervened and for the second game running sin-binned a ‘Port player for a high tackle, despite the fact that it wasn’t around the neck and didn’t take place in the ‘red zone’. This took all of the momentum from the Waterloo Road boys and handed it straight to Fleetwood.
Fleetwood accepted this gift with glee and soon scored a converted try, bringing them to within 3 points. ‘Port men were beginning to drop like flies, and those left on the pitch were on their last legs but giving everything to try and keep a surging Fleetwood team out. Last play was called and the boys in red, black and amber kept Fleetwood at bay for several phases of play. However, the pressure, and the man advantage, finally paid dividends when simple hands found an overlap on the outside for Fleetwood to claim victory and break Southport hearts.
Thanks to Fleetwood for being excellent hosts and for dealing with the unsavoury situation so well. Congratulations should also go to our boys who worked incredibly hard and came so close again. If we can keep playing in this manner then the away wins will start to come and we could really start to challenge the more experienced sides in the league. Man of the match went to Adam Atkinson for his sniping runs from scrum half and his long range attacks when he moved to full back.
Tries: Atkinson, White, Tees, Smallwood
Cons: Atherton 2