South­port fight back but bad start so costly

Southport Visiter - - Visiter Life - LIVER­POOL ST HE­LENS ................... 31 SOUTH­PORT........................................ 17 BY MIKE SMITH

FOR the sec­ond week in a row, South­port faced op­po­si­tion from St He­lens last Satur­day, this time trav­el­ling away to Moss Lane to face the world’s old­est open rugby foot­ball club, Liver­pool St He­lens.

It was the home side that shone first, with the pow­er­ful for­wards get­ting the up­per hand at scrum time, shunt­ing South­port off their own put in.

With pos­ses­sion, Liver­pool St He­lens kept it tight be­fore scrum-half Dar­ren Wil­son saw a gap and darted for the line.

Un­able to quite make it on his own, Wil­son was sup­ported by wing John Ro­mano, who rounded the last man to open the scor­ing.

South­port tried to re­spond imme- di­ately, and did have a good pe­riod of pres­sure. How­ever, a wide pass was well in­ter­cepted by cen­tre Dan Fil­son, who grate­fully ac­cepted the gift and cruised over the line.

And with only 20 min­utes on the clock, Saints had a third try, after an­other Ro­mano run took play deep into South­port’s 22.

Wil­son looked to find a for­ward go­ing blind, and he fum­bled the ball, for­tu­itously into the wait­ing arms of Alex McClurg.

The cen­tre needed no fur­ther in­vi­ta­tion to dive over in the cor­ner, open­ing up a 17-0 lead.

But with a quar­ter of the game gone, South­port sud­denly turned up and be­gan to put to­gether phases of play that had the home side in de­fence mode.

Jake McMullen led from the front, run­ning straight and hard, and man­aged to break through a tackle be­fore putting Josh Critch­ley in space.

The num­ber eight ate up the yards, only to be scythed down just short of the line. But with the de­fence in­fring­ing at the ruck, South­port spread the ball wide for Tom Pea­cock to score in the cor­ner.

And, the wing thought he had a sec­ond five-pointer shortly after, only to be called back by the home touch judge for a foot on the line.

But South­port promptly stole the re­sult­ing li­ne­out and again spread the ball wide, this time for Tom Hill to score in the op­po­site cor­ner to re­duce the LSH lead at the break to 17-10.

With their tails up, it was South­port who had the up­per hand at the start of the sec­ond pe­riod and they thought they had se­cured the first score of the half after a lovely in­ter­change from Char­lie At­tis to Hill and back to At­tis. Quick hands put McMullen over the line, only for the vis­i­tors to be called back for a for­ward pass.

But South­port were caus­ing real is­sues for the home side, and they could only stop Pea­cock with a high tackle, re­sult­ing in a yel­low card be­ing shown.

South­port im­me­di­ately made the most of the nu­mer­i­cal ad­van­tage, with a cross field At­tis kick find­ing Hill, and then a sup­port­ing run from Church e even­tu­ally al­lowed Critch­ley to power over and an At­tis conv ver­sion lev­el­ling the scores.

The 14 men of Saints re­sponded well, and good re­cy­cling, as­sisted by a cou­ple of South­port penal­ties, saw the home side at­tack­ing deep into South­port’s ter­ri­tory.

How­ever, just as South­port though they had nul­li­fied the at­tack, stop­ping cap­tain Wil­son short of the try line, the ref­eree awarded a penalty try to Saints side for a high tackle, giv­ing them a cru­cial lead.

South­port im­me­di­ately came back at the home side, with Cross and Cr­tich­ley con­tin­u­ing to cause is­sues for the de­fence.

But Liver­pool St He­lens gained pos­ses­sion deep in their own half and sud­denly shipped the ball wide to Ro­mano, who strode down the left wing, out­paced the de­fence and scored a great solo ef­fort.

South­port never gave in, and in the re­main­ing min­utes still strived to get some­thing out of the con­test. How­ever, the home de­fence held out for the 31-17 vic­tory.

An­gus Mathe­son

The South­port Ladies 2017-18 squad line up at Water­loo Road

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