IT was a bright and crisp day at Waterloo Road, Southport and a large crowd gathered to watch this derby clash which also saw a battle for the John Winn Cup.
The conditions and the wide pitch lent themselves to an open attacking style of play.
A hotly-contested match ensued, with both teams showing great grit and determination. After a tough battle with periods of ingenuity and good strength from both teams, Ormskirk had that little bit extra and managed to out play their opponents to retain the silverware.
From the first blow of the whistle the match was played at a furious pace with both teams eager to get on the scoreboard.
The Gingerbread Men were on the scoreboard first after nine minutes of play, following a strong darting run from wing Joe Hodson he was able to complete a neat pass to outside centre Oli Griffiths who showed good strength to cross the line scoring beneath the posts.
Alex Lambie converted.
Ormskirk were dominant for the next 10 minutes holding possession well and going through many phases of rugby.
Their second try came following fast ball from the back of the ruck which saw flanker Mark Webster break through the defensive line and score the try. Lambie again converted.
Southport regained composure and were able to pressurise Ormskirk’s defence. Following some strong forward play in the 28th minute they were rewarded with an unconverted try.
The local rivals were pretty evenly matched for the rest of the half, with both sides holding good territory at times.
In the final minutes of the first-half Southport gave away a penalty within kicking range. James Illingworth precisely slipped the ball between the posts and gave Ormskirk a healthy 17-5 lead going into the second period.
Not long after the second-half had begun, Ormskirk returned the favour, giving away a penalty inside their own 22 metre line.
Southport took the three points and now trailed 17-8.
Ormskirk, though, didn’t lose focus and following some good backs play and some neat off-loads keeping the game flowing, inside centre Neil Habberfield chinked his way through Southport’s defensive line to score under the posts.
Illingworth added the conversion and Ormskirk had padded the lead to 24-8.
Southport were not beaten yet and frustrated their opponents with long periods of possession.
Ormskirk lost some discipline and two players were sin binned mid-way through the second-half.
This build-up of Southport pressure saw them cross Ormskirk’s line twice during this period, there were now only six points in it, 24-18.
Ormskirk welcomed the return of the sin-binned players and were able to regain their composure.
’Kirk were patient in possession, leading to a well-worked forwards try in the corner, Dan Hitchlock scoring with eight minutes to play and the West Lancashire outfit now led 29-18.
With just two minutes left, Ormskirk sealed the deal with a final try. From a set-piece, the backs produced a cute move which allowed Illingworth to breakthrough. A neat pass made its way to Luke Parker on the wing and he ran in for an unconverted try in the right corner.
ORMSKIRK’S first XV take on league leaders Sefton at home this Saturday. This is a must-win game for Ormskirk if they want to keep alive their title hopes. The seconds visit Preston Grasshoppers’ fourths, the thirds take on Eagle’s second team at home and the fourths go to Old Parkonians’ second XV.