THIRDS IN A WONDERFUL WORLD ON THE WIRRAL
James Doran boys dig deep and chalk up a notable victory over the water. Ian Smith tells it as it was....
Southport 3s took to the road for the second week running, to face the newly promoted Wirral 4s, a side that had a strong home unbeaten run stretching back over 2 seasons. Preparations had not gone well with captain Doran failing a Thursday fitness test and 3 players dropping out on the eve of the game, this meant Southport travelled with 16 players knowing we would lose one of them to work commitments at half time.
The game kicked off in beautiful September sunshine and to a very fast pace with the Southport back row consisting of a winger a hooker and scrum half competing well in the loose supported by fine kicking from fullback Billy Nichol enabling the visitors to control territory but not the scoreboard. The game was well contested but neither team could break down the defensive lines and as the half progressed Wirral made several breaks only to be repelled by great cover tackling from Roberts, Nichol, Fearn’s and Fitzpatrick. Wirral started to dominate possession and set up camp in the Southport 22 but they could not convert this pressure due to a brick wall of goal line defence from Gillow, Capps, Smith and Thomas smothering the pounding charges from the opposition as they tried to bulldozer over line. The half drew to a close with Wirral 3-0 up this in spite of the significant amount of pressure they had applied. Whilst the half time sermon was deliver from team manager Andy Whitfield it became apparent that Fearns could not shake off the injury he had picked up towards the end of the half and that we would now have to play the rest of the game with 14 men.
The Second half kicked off and Wirral started to drive home the extra man advantage stretching the score out to 10-0 and things were starting to look bleak for the visiting side. the team re-grouped and after some focussed words from Ex Club captain John Roberts and 3rd team skipper for the day Ian Smith, Port struck back with powerful breaks from Big legs Joe Spencer and a very fired up Will Greenwood, Port managed to drive close to the oppositions try line allowing the forwards to start applying the same effective goal line pressure they had exercised the week before. A Break from Gillow was recycled to Smith who put back quick ball for debutant Ste Mason to touch down over the line and get the visiting team on the score sheet with the 2 extra’s added by the dependable kicking of Fitzpatrick. Wirral fired back with more attacking straight from the kick off, resulting in Port conceding a penalty on the edge of their 22 and the home side drew 6 points clear. More pressure followed with Roberts stopping a powerful run from their centres using his face to absorb the on rushing charge, the Wirral team started to become frustrated with the resolute defence and their penalty count mounted with the referee punishing frequent indiscipline from the home side.
15 minutes to go and Southport were awarded a penalty well within the range of Fitzpatrick and the deficit was reduced to 3, from this point the Southport team sensed that in spite of having just 14 men the game was there to be won. A blitzkrieg was launched from the Southport back line, a 40 yard run from Wilson was only repelled close to goal line, Greenwood and Spencer combined enabling the fly half to touch down and Fitzpatrick to convert to give Southport the lead for the first time in the game. Almost straight from the kick off Hunter took the ball deep in his own 22 evading several tacklers and sprinted just past half way with 4 men closing in he put boot to ball sending it into a stratospheric orbit and on he charged, the ball was heading back to earth expertly positioned on the goal line, the tall opposition number 6 was underneath it, but Hunter sprinted on and leapt like a migrating Salmon to pluck the ball from the sky and touch down for a sublime individual try. This amazing try incensed the opposition, resulting in a unnecessary blow to the head for Hunter and a yellow card for the Wirral captain who continued to protest the brilliance of Hunters try from the side-lines. The conversion was made and all Port had to do was hold on. Wirral came roaring back and were able to get a consolation try but the day belonged to the men in black.
Team manager Andy Whitfield was ecstatic with the team performance especially with the discipline and commitment shown in the second half, he was later quoted as saying ‘I think to myself what a wonderful world’. The team would like to thank the support they received on the long away trip from the whole Doran family, Mike Goodwin and Jo Stringfellow. Man of the match went to stand in Fly half big legs Joe Spencer for a great try, powerful running and great ball distribution. Other notable performances came from Ste Mason on debut in his second ever rugby game, Jimmy Thomas and Luke Summerfield both performing well out of position and Steve Hunter for his outstanding breaks and sublime try. Next week will see the team back to full strength and the visit of local rivals Firewood Waterloo which is always a fiercely contested encounter.
Try’s Mason, Spencer, Hunter
Conversions Fitzpatrick (3)
Penalties Fitzpatrick (1)