Liverpool St Helens’ hard fought win at a hospitable Southport club was not just a deserved reward for a complete team performance but was also a personal triumph for Assistant Head Coach Darren Charlton. Taking charge of the Moss Laners for the first time whilst Andy Northey was re-living former glories at a Heineken Cup winning reunion with Northampton, the loyal LSH man found himself a pivotal figure on the touchline, managing a higher than normal number of knocks and injuries with his already depleted number of replacements.  He did it well.

LSH made an excellent start, following up a second minute try from Matt Cunliffe, 0-5, bursting through from 20 yards out, with two more tries before the half hour mark. In a busy intervening period though, Southport had replied with a penalty, 3-5, Paddy Royle had come off after taking a knock (but returned to have one of his best games) and Dan Filson had been carried off with a suspected twisted ankle.  Chris Houlton settled things down for LSH with a good try from a catch and drive after 25 minutes, 3-10, before a strong charge from Dave Cunliffe was continued by skipper Darren Wilson blitzing his way over for the third try, 3-15, converted by Matt Cunliffe, 3-17.  

The home side then dominated the last ten minutes after Matt Cunliffe was binned for a high tackle, reducing the arrears with a converted try, 10 -17 before an eventful first half was brought to a close with a red card for the Southport scrum half for a stamping offence.

Southport narrowed the gap to just four points with a penalty early in the second half, 13-17, and the game was very much in the balance. LSH’s response, inspired by Darren Wilson and Dave Cunliffe, was to produce a superbly controlled display for the rest of the game, despite a finger injury to Jake Hodson, a now statutory ten minute rest for full back Alex Kean when injured and a limping Matt Cunliffe on the left wing.

A tremendous break from Hodson led to the bonus point try from Dave Cunliffe, scattering the Southport defence as he crossed the line to touch down, converted by his brother, 13-24. Southport registered another penalty after 52 minutes, 16-24, before flanker Sam Molyneux capped a decent all round performance with two excellently worked tries from distance in the 66th and 73rd minutes. 16-36. Southport scored a further try on the final whistle. 23-36.

Darren Charlton, after managing a dugout which resembled a MASH unit, can reflect on a good afternoon’s work and a 100% record.


15 Kean 14 Cunliffe M 13 Johnson 12 Cunliffe 11 Hodson 10 Filson 9 Wilson D (capt) 1 Williamson 2 Houlton 3 Fryer

4 Royle P 5 Gore 6 Molyneux 7 Burrows 8 Potter 16 Wilson G 17 Donlevy  

John Williams