Eagles stand firm despite some early pressure

Reporter:

Staff reporter (Border Counties)

South Lancs and Cheshire League Division Two
Oswestry 31, Southport 22
OSWESTRY welcomed Southport to Granville Park on a breezy October day, looking to bounce back from last week’s defeat on the Isle of Man.
Southport’s early pressure then paid off for the visitors, scoring a well worked try in the corner, the conversion was missed.
Stirring words by captain Andy Smith inspired the Eagles to play with more energy, but Southport were looking to pummel the home side into submission, with some off the ball offences taking the shine from a well balanced game.
Southport scored once more in the corner, though a punch thrown by their winger following the try led to him receiving a yellow card, though strangely the try was allowed to stand and the Eagles were awarded the penalty from the kick-off, with the conversion once again missed.

Finally, Oswestry began to string some good phases together, using their extra man to good effect.
 A superb break by winger Jack Fox, showing good agility and strength to shrug off several tackles, gave the Eagles a good platform deep in the Southport half, and quick hands by second rows Graham Fox and Gaz Ellis exposed an overlap, allowing Gaz Hughes to sprint in for a try. This was converted by fly-half Dan Williams, making the score 10-7. Southport, spurred on by conceding, then began to build phases themselves, and poor discipline by the home side allowed them a line-out deep in the Oswestry half, which they then won. Quick hands from the ensuing maul allowed their centre to chip over the Eagles’ defence and out-pace the scrambling defence to score, which was converted. Some hotly contested phases followed the kick-off, and the Southport number eight lost his discipline, yellow carded for a forearm to the face. The ensuing penalty was well converted by Williams. The half time score was 17-10 to the visitors.
A well considered team talk and change in tactics at half time by Smith and head coach Gaz Barrett led to a rejuvenated Eagles side emerging for the second half, cheered on by the Bald Eagles following their match.
 Williams took advantage of every Southport mistake with punishing kicks for touch, giving the home side excellent platforms to build on, particularly as the visitors could not cope with the home line-out.
A Southport line-out in their own half was stolen, and the ball was quickly spread wide through scrum-half Nick Clay, and young Fox showed his class to finish in the corner, again converted from the touchline by Williams.
The Eagles were really starting to exert some dominance on the game, with some crunching scrums driving the visitors back. Phase after phase was built up, and a good maul led by flanker Tom Thorpe fell just short of the line.
 The ball was quickly recycled, and Williams crashed through the visitors’ defence to score, then converted his own try to make the score 24-17 to the Eagles. The visitors once more began to try to bully Oswestry into submission with some more thuggery. Silly penalties by the home side allowed Southport good field position, and they made this pay with a well worked try, with conversion once again missed. Some more reckless violence by the visitors led to another yellow card, well deserved for a dangerous stamp, and could have been followed by further yellow cards for constant strikes to the faces of Oswestry players.
The Eagles showed their character by punishing Southport not through violence but through some good rugby, and a line-out in the visitors half led to a good drive by the Oswestry pack, led by props Dave Richardson and Mike Keaveny, along with replacement lock Adam Haythorn, with the maul crossing the Southport line and allowing Thorpe to score, again converted by the superb Williams. Sensing defeat, the away side upped their game, managing to get deep into the home half, but some superb defence, led by centre Tom Keaveny, drove the visitors back. Poor discipline, however, allowed the visitors a penalty just outside the 22 and, sensing the Eagles stubborn defence of their line, opted for a kick rather than an attempt at a try, with a chance of gaining another bonus point. However, the kick was missed, giving Oswestry a hard fought win.
Man of the match was Dan Williams, the final score was 31-22. This week, the Eagles head to Manchester Medics, currently top of the league, for what will be a very tough game.

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