Ian Smith reports from his front row seat.
From the kick off Bolton shocked Southport creating pressure from a deep Kick and were straight away into the lead in the far corner 0-5. Southport regathered and started to build pressure in the Bolton half with strong carries from Mike Dale and tough tackling from Brian Henry. Southport gained a penalty but narrowly missed in the damp cold and slippy conditions.
Bolton countered and great defence from the Southport backs kept them at bay but at the cost of another penalty 0-8. From the restart Southport looked more settled and were now competing at the breakdown, captain Andy Boland making several great tackles in middle of the park. From this platform Joe Spencer worked the ball wide for Chris Drescher to be set free on the wing 30 meters out, he galloped down the line to put Southport back in the game and a breath taking long distance conversion from Josh Spencer made it 7-8.
Bolton came firing back gaining territory from penalties, they worked the ball to their powerful fly half who put their centre clean through only for him to get snared by a last ditch Boland tackle that kept his arm off the ground over the line. From the resulting scrum there was little Southport could do to keep the powerful Bolton team at bay and they were again over the line this time in the corner resulting in a much harder kick which was subsequently missed 7-13. Southport pushed forward and with good runs from Tom Smallwood, Chris Tees and Joe Spencer were able to push for the line a quick pass out to Chris Drescher and he was in from close range, sadly the referee called this back for a forward pass and Southport had to settle for the penalty advantage and Half time scores 10-13 and all to play for.
The second half had great potential but ultimately contained very little excitement, Bolton would clear back to Southport’s 10 meter, Southport would run it back, build pressure only for this to be released by a dominant Bolton line out or one of many free kicks from the scrum. This pattern repeated for nearly 30 minutes of attritional rugby before Bolton finally found some momentum to get into the Southport half and seal the victory with another unconverted try. 10 -18 final score.
The Southport team badly effected by injuries with numerous player playing out of position realised this would be a major dent in the promotion campaign. It’s still all to play for with 2 more away games before a run in with 5 home out of the final 6 games