There’s a storm brewing in lacrosse Southwest 1. Southampton Sabres are going from strength to strength, scalping a full-strength Bath Firsts side away in a hard-fought battle of the titans, through to the Flags semi final of West 1.
In the long anticipated second leg, Southampton had prepared for a furious onslaught after beating Bath firsts at home 12 – 9. Bath called it “a bad day at the office” but the Sabres were determined to show them otherwise. Soft ground underfoot made for a slugging match, the Sabres spending long periods of the game on both sides of the halfway line. After a rocky start the well-rehearsed defence kept the pressure on a strong Bath attack, forcing drawn out plays from Baths skilled attack men. The first quarter was to be Southampton’s worst, finishing Bath three to Southampton’s two, thanks to stand-out midfield performances from Andrew Valentine, Harry Kenyon, and Captain Alex Hustler.
Second quarter, Defence and Midfield hit their stride; Zoned up, and with outstanding goal keeping from Man of the Match Jon Duckman the score was level at half time with five points apiece. Superb LSMs Cameron Reid and Jake Kelly dominating the ground ball pickups added impetus to a lethal 2:3:1 attack, rotation once again paying dividends and freeing space for top goal scorer Andrew Valentine to fire shots past the keeper, closing the gap and ending the half five points apiece.
Both teams took to the field with renewed vigour at the start of the third quarter but soon Bath’s tiring defence began to make mistakes, being drawn out of position and allowing two goals through, which were offset by the same feat at the other end of the pitch. With a man down at several points Southampton were hard pressed to keep the goals out, the end of the quarter leaving the Sabres neck a neck with a run down Bath.
With fire in their eyes, Sabres took to the field in the last quarter with their shouts echoing around The Rec, Captain Alex spurred on by the intensity quickly stripped bath in midfield, a perfectly executed fast break ensued, Baths tired defense utter incapable of stopping the onslaught, now in full stride. The battle still raged on both sides of the half way, Will Jones made some big hits late on in the game, with sublime clearance from midfield solidly backed up from defensive partners Jon Montgomery and Lloyd Ellis. Bath were desperately chasing the game, throwing everything at the Sabres and finding only brick walls in defence, and the vapor trails of departed men in attack.
A quick succession of fast break goals finally broke Bath wide open, their defence tired and wildly committing to any man with the ball, trying to regain their crown and their pride, this only made it easier for the sharp attack men to punish their poor discipline with more goals. Upon the final whistle Southampton’s desire and drive had seen them true to a hard-fought eleven – seven victory. Top goal scorer Andrew lead proceedings with four goals, Jules second on 3, with Robin Dalton scoring twice. The towering Mark got in on the action with a goal of his own in the final quarter, drawing with Jack on one goal apiece.