NO SLOUGH OF DESMOND AS SECONDS SECURE WORTHY DRAW
It was wet and windy at Waterloo Road as Dave Atherons storm troopers battled the elements and West Park 2nd XV on Saturday under the lights.
The man himself tells it as it was....
Despite very late changes due to illness, Southport got off to a good start. With the wind in their favour the half back pairing of David Atherton and Joe Spencer had ‘Port in West Park territory, and allowed the forwards to make inroads into the Park defence. Unfortunately, after just 10 minutes or so the pack was disrupted by an injury to Tom Johnson, meaning a reshuffle in the pack and the long-awaited return of Director of Rugby Mike Dale. As the pack were adjusting to the reshuffle Park managed to win one of the few scrums that they won all day and with quick hands got the ball wide and around the outside of the ‘Port defence to score out on the right. With the kick missed in the blustery conditions the score remained 5-0 and ‘Port were now aware of what was needed to get something out of this game.
Southport quickly got back on the attack and defensive pressure meant that West Park were struggling to exit their 22. Some excellent phase play by the forwards then produced a penalty to Southport and Atherton slotted to reduce the deficit. The home team continued to exert pressure but mistakes, generally caused by the conditions, meant that they were unable to capitalise on it. With just a few minutes left in the half, a dropped ball gave West Park possession and some slick handling led to a second try out on the right wing and a half time lead of 10-3 for the visitors.
Talk at half time from coach Bernie Gavan was to keep the ball tight and to use the forwards to make inroads before spreading wide. These instructions were followed and ‘Port were still the dominant team with forwards Cameron Williams, Adrian Jones and Liam Webb making yards at almost every phase.
After a penalty kick to touch gave Southport a line out in the 22 a rolling maul made yards towards the try line. When the maul collapsed the ball was recycled and after a couple of drives Atherton took the ball from the base of the ruck before playing the ball inside to James Smallwood who headed for a gap, made slightly wider by Dale, before crashing over the line for a try. Atherton added the tricky conversion to tie the game up at 10-10. With 20 minutes to go it was anybody’s game, but despite some attacking rugby from both sides nobody could come up with the winning points and a hard fought game ended in a draw.
Thanks to West Park for what was a good game despite conditions, and to the Waterloo Road crowd who were vociferous throughout, even with scarves covering their faces. There were a number of good performances but Man of the Match went to Cameron Williams who carries the ball strongly all day and made numerous tackles. The 2s will be hoping to build on this result when they travel to the other promoted side from last year, Tyldesley.
Club President Graham Ellis adds "For the second week running the Twos have put in performances of spirit and character matched with effort against classy opposition in appalling weather conditions. Dave and his boys are a real credit to the club. A mention too for the absent Brian Henry as he recuperates from the broken cheek he suffered last week at Kirkby Lonsdale. Get well soon!"