Much to pon­der after Port open with de­feat

Southport Visiter - - Visiter Life - BY GRA­HAM EL­LIS

THE sun shone on Water­loo Road on Satur­day af­ter­noon but for all the South­port RFC se­nior men’s teams the open­ing day of the sea­son was a damp squib. The First and Sec­ond teams suf­fered de­feats at home to Anselmi­ans and at Tar­leton 2s re­spec­tively whilst the Third team fix­ture at Older­shaw was can­celled the evening be­fore be­cause the op­po­si­tion was un­able to raise a team. A wor­ry­ing sign of things t o come at this level? For 35 min­utes the Firsts looked lively and slowly racked up a de­served 16-0 lead through Josh Critch­ley (try) and Char­lie At­tis (con­ver­sion and three penal­ties). The only nag­ging doubt was that the points scored didn’t re­ally rep­re­sent the pres­sure that South­port ex­erted.

How this would come back and haunt the home side!

Such was the as­cen­dancy that there seemed to be a non­cha­lance that the missed chances wouldn’t mat­ter es­pe­cially as per­sis­tent foul­ing had led to Anselmi­ans be­ing per­ma­nently re­duced to 14 men fol­low­ing a sec­ond yel­low card re­sult­ing in a red card.

The game was seem­ingly won with the op­po­si­tion in dis­ar­ray on and off the pitch.

But as so of­ten hap­pens there are defining mo­ments and in this game it came through South­port’s own in­dis­ci­pline.

A promis­ing at­tack­ing po­si­tion just be­fore half time was need­lessly thrown away when the ref­eree award­ing a penalty for the ball be­ing kicked away.

This respite en­abled Anselmi­ans to work their way up the pitch and win an­other penalty to claw back three points to give a half time score of 16-3.

Still com­fort­able look­ing for South­port but only leav­ing the op­po­si­tion only two con­verted tries be­hind.

This glim­mer of hope clearly gal­vanised the away side in the open­ing min­utes of the sec­ond half as Anselmi­ans hit the ground run­ning to as­sume as­cen­dancy chang­ing the bal­ance of the match com­pletely.

Their ter­ri­to­rial supremacy al­lied with pos­ses­sion lead to a “knife through but­ter” try next to the posts duly con­verted.

The 16 point lead was now re­duced to 16-10 but an­other penalty from At­tis kept the home fires burn­ing.

But it was pa­per­ing over the cracks as Anselmi­ans re­newed their pres­sure to se­cure a penalty try as the pre­vi­ously dom­i­nant South­port scrum dis­in­te­grated.

With the home team now re­duced to 14 men to they clung on to the nar­row 19-17 lead be­fore giv­ing away yet an­other stupid penalty in a kick­able po­si­tion in the last minute.

This was duly slot­ted over en­abling Anselmi­ans to se­cure an un­likely but ul­ti­mately thor­oughly de­served victory by one point. Their re­solve and de­ter­mi­na­tion to turn a des­per­ate sit­u­a­tion around was to be ad­mired, es­pe­cially their out­stand­ing de­fence.

Whilst on pa­per an ex­cit­ing game for the neu­tral new head coach Neil Ryan will be stu­diously scru­ti­n­is­ing the match video. Whilst South­port can cite the ab­sence of three key play­ers per­haps the most dis­ap­point­ing as­pect was not to have learnt lessons from last sea­son es­pe­cially in re­spect of con­ced­ing gift wrapped penal­ties.

With the Sec­ond team also crash­ing to earth in a 15-40 re­verse at Tar­leton full at­ten­dance and com­mit­ment at train­ing this week is a must to iron out de­fi­cien­cies in these per­for­mance ahead of daunt­ing fix­tures this Satur­day with the First XV at home to Widnes and the Sec­onds away at Bolton 2s. The Third XV is at home to New Brighton. All games kick off at 3pm and all spec­ta­tors wel­come (free ad­mis­sion).

On Sun­day the Colts host their coun­ter­parts from Pen­rith (KO 2pm) on the back of an ex­cel­lent 27-14 win at Crewe & Nantwich.

In­deed the per­for­mances of the Colts through­out the week­end es­pe­cially James Cook, Sam Lawren­son, Ge­orge Scot­tand, Cal­lum Toothill was the bright spot for the Club and with last year’s u16s and u17s gelling seam­lessly this squad is go­ing to be pretty for­mi­da­ble.

This year’s u13s also have a home match on Sun­day against Liver­pool Col­le­giate (KO 11am) whilst the u14s and u15s make the re­verse jour­ney to Aig­burth to take on the same op­po­si­tion.

Last Sun­day the Ladies had a gutsy work out against newly es­tab­lished Women’s Su­per League team Water­loo which will stand them in good stead for their open­ing fix­ture at Na­tional level 3 away at Birken­head Park.

An­gus Mathe­son

South­port suf­fered a tough start to the sea­son with de­feat to Anselmi­ans

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