Ormskirk 1st XV 30 – 8 Southport 1st XV

Ormskirk welcomed Southport to Green Lane in the pick of the South Lancashire-Cheshire fixtures this week. With Captain Gareth Prytherch able to select from almost a full strength squad, he welcomed back long-term casualty No. 5 Jake Ball and No. 12 Neil Habberfield, two key men who have been missing in recent weeks. Another key coup was a last minute transfer deadline capture of hooker come prop Jonny Gorst from West Park R.U.F.C. With the additions, 'Kirk went into the fixture at almost full strength, the only missing regular being No. 5 Phil Davis who is still recovering after injury.

Ormskirk first XV's in recent weeks have suffered from a dip in form, caused primary by unavailability and injuries which resulted in a defeat in last weeks fixture against 10th placed Wallasey. In comparison, Southport have been going from strength to strength with a recent run of good form. However in these local derby fixtures, recent form has nothing to do with it and as past 1xt XV legendary captain Paul Kearney commented before the fixture, 'It's also about passion and commitment and who wants it more, and I know Ormskirk will want it more'. 'Kirk last faced Southport on October 27th 2012, where Ormskirk ran out comfortable victors, 34-13.

With the pressure on Ormskirk to do the 'double' over there arch rivals, Ormskirk signalled their intent right from the kick off, taking it to the Southport XV. With 'Kirk playing a straight and direct running game, utilising there tight five forwards, with the immense from row of No.1 Ryan Purcell, No. 2 Graham Bowling and No. 3 Jonny Gorst picking and tacking it to Southport, 'Port knew they were going to be for a tough afternoon.

Eventually Ormskirk's pressure paid dividends, as Southport was caught offside. Captain Prytherch sticking to Coach Sutherland game plan indicated to No. 10 Alex Lambie to kick for points, which the young No. 10 coolly obliged slotting a good penalty. With a poor place kicking display by the young No. 10 last week, this penalty conversion gave Lambie renewed confidence which could be clearly seen on the youngsters face, 3-0 at 12 minutes.

Southport tried to take it to Ormskirk, however Ormskirk defence was immense. The restored midfield partnership of No. 12 Habberfield and No. 13 Ben McCarthy held firm. Habberfield in his first full season for the Green Lane club was outstanding in defence. The burly centre continued to send his opposite number 12 Forest Bailey back as the Southport centre tried to out sprint the former Liverpool St. Helen's centre.
Southport in a rare foray into Ormskirk territory did manage to come away with some reward. With yet again the usual suspects of No. 6 Mark Webster, No. 7 Glyn Roberts and No. 8 Dan Hitchlock providing a constance menace at the breakdown it was unfortunate that No. 7 Roberts was harshly adjudged to have strayed offside, which the Southport No. 10 Danny Banks slotted to make it 3-3 all at 16 minutes.

Captain Prytherch again rallied his troops behind the posts and 'Kirk came out with all guns blazing. Ormskirks tight '5' seem incensed that Southport had registered points on the board and took it to them from the restart. Yet gain No. 3 Ryan Purcell was immense. The 20 stone juggernaut a product of the Ormskirk Mini & Junior section was unstoppable. With the pressure applied by Purcell and the rest of his front row union it wasn't long before the Gingerbread Men were on the scoreboard again. With Southport infringing at the ruck, No. 10 Lambie stepped up to slot the penalty, 6-3 at 25 minutes.

Ormskirk weren’t having it all their own way and on occasions when the dynamic back row of No.8 Hitchlock, two time back to back player of the year No. 7 Roberts and the impressive No. 6 Webster were tied up, Ormskirk failed to adequately clear the contact area which prevented No. 10 Lambie from releasing his potent back line particular with the talent of No. 12 Habberfield and No. 11 Joe Hodson keen to show off their skills.
As the half progressed, 'Kirk started to dominate in all aspects of the game, with Captain Prytherch marshalling his forward pack well the mouthy No. 9 was urging his forward pack on, and eventually the breakthrough came on 35 minutes.

Captain Prytherch utilising his forward strike runners well, made adequate ground into the Southport '22', then the rest was left to the impressive No. 15 Andrew Healey. Healey, playing in his tenth consecutive season in the first XV, joined the line at pace and took an inside ball from Habberfield. Healey then muscled his way over from ten yards leaving three Southport defenders trailing, the burly No. 15 was simply unstoppable on the line he took. With the conversion taken by No.10 Lambie, 16-3 Ormskirk at half-time.

Captain Prytherch and front row mouthpiece Purcell offered stern words at half-time sighting the breakdown as the key area that 'Kirk needed to raise their game in and dominate. The rallying call from Prytherch was immediate with 'Ormskirk taking it to Southport from the start of the half. Southport didn't have any answer to the Ormskirk onslaught, there were being soundly beaten in all facets of the game.

This is where 'Kirk started to dominate and with No. 10 Lambie and No. 14 Parker kicking well for position this laid the foundations for arguably the try of the game, with the inspirational No. 12 Habberfield being the scorer. The midfield general took a fantastic inside ball from No. 10 Lambie, and with four defenders to beat, Habberfield did the rest with a mazing, mesmerising run that left the Southport midfield pairing of No. 12 Forest Bailey and No. 13 Clarke McMullen stood still as Habberfield went through unopposed to score under the posts, much to approval of the 'Kirk touchline faithful, with many remarking the Habberfield is starting to etch his name into 'Kirk greatness alongside such past midfield generals as Underwood, Leigh to name but a few.

With yet again the conversion slotted coolly by No. 10 Lambie, 23-3 at 65 minutes. With instructions coming onto the field from Coach Sutherland to press for the bonus point victory, 'Kirk eager for more points and yet again after a beautiful flowing back line move, with an exhibition in passing and taking the ball at depth, it was No. 14 Parker who has been in a rich vein of form recently, who neatly finished in the corner. With again the conversion taken by No. 10 Lambie, 30-3 at 68 minutes.

Ormskirk continue to dominate and it was obvious that Southport were a beaten team and their frustrations were starting to show. Again and again the outstanding Ormskirk No. 6 Webster was a constant nuisance. The aggressive flanker was knocking back the Southport raiders time after time and it was no surprise then that at numerous flashpoints in the remaining 12 minutes of the clash, Webster was always close to the fracas.

It was at one of these scuffles that Port No. 2 Liam Webb was bansished from the field of play for 'striking' much to the jeers of the 'Kirk crowd. Southport made a rare attack into the 'Green & Blue' '22' and despite a scrambling defence from Ormskirk the Southport skipper No. 7 Gareth Lang manage to squeeze over for a consultation try at the death, with the conversion missed, the encountered ended at 30-8 with another home victory against Ormskirk arch rivals,

Ormskirk Captain Prytherch was more than happy with his teams performance, remarking, 'We simply dominated all aspects of the game from start to finish as we knew we could'. In a poll of both home and away supporters two candidates emerged from the derby fixture as man of the match, with the it been Ormskirk No. 15 Healey and No. 6 Webster. Webster took the award by one vote and commented in his post match interview, 'We stuck to the task well today and we showed just what we are capable of'.

Overall the day, billed as a 'Blue & Green' past and present players day was great success both on and off the filed activities and senior rugby. At the final whistle, news came in that as as well as the first team victory, Ormskirk 2nd XV managed to defeat Southport 2nd XV in the corresponding fixture, with past first team great ex-captain Paul Kearney and No. 8 Keiron Mahood on display, 'Kirk ran out winners 31-16, with the every young Mahood notching up a 'brace'.