Macclesfield got their pre-season preparations off to a flying start this week with an impressive 28-21 victory over Championship outfit Rotherham Titans.
After last season’s superb fourth place finish the Blues know that expectations will be high this year and they will no longer be seen as the new boys in National One. Having lost a number of key players over the summer, including Captain Evan Stewart and Jon Keep there were several new faces on show and they were keen to impress.
The Titans on paper presented a tough test for Macc, having finished seventh in last season’s RFU Championship and boasting a talented experienced squad.
The first half went very much with the form book as the Titans looked to impose themselves on the home side and dominated possession of the ball. The away team capitalised on this pressure after 18 minutes when Peter Homan broke through the Blues defensive line to score the first try of the game, fly half Dave Marshall added the extras and Rotherham led 7-0.
Macclesfield almost immediately found themselves two tries down but for a superb covering tackle from Matt O’Reagan. The majority of the first half was played in midfield with both sides trading possession and players finding form ahead of the new season.
The visitors went in at half time with a 7-0 lead but the Blues were by no means out of the game and showed Rotherham just what they were capable of.
The second half was an all together different story with no fewer than six tries being scored, it was the Titans that drew first blood on 46 minutes when prop Ted Stagg carried the ball over and Marshall again converted to extend the lead to 14-0.
The Blues responded and immediately took the game to the visitors, putting heavy pressure on their backline and eventually getting their reward after 51 minutes when Matt Owens touched down in the corner to score Macc’s first try of the game. Ross Winney stepped up to converted and the Blues were on the board at 14-7.
Just as the home team looked in the ascendency Rotherham hit them on the break and second row Olly Steadman claimed their third try of the match. Marshall coolly slotted the ball between the posts and the Titans were 21-7 up.
The game was now far more open and both sides were attacking at will and the Blues looked determined to get themselves back into the game. Their chance came when Captain Ross Winney received the ball on the left flank and scored Macc’s second try of the game on 65 minutes, he again converted and the Blues were within seven.
The comeback was now very much on and the home side were full of confidence, they were given a further boost when try scorer Steadman was ordered off the field for interfering with play. The Blues took full advantage and scored with the very next play of the game, forward Aaron luckett carried the ball over the line on 70 minutes and Captain Winney again converted to level the scores.
The game was won in the final minute when winger O’Reagan received the ball on the left hand side and beat two Titan defenders to seal a highly impressive win. Winney completed a fine kicking display with yet another conversion.
The Blues look in ominous form and will look to continue their preparations in their next warm up match against local rivals Wilmslow next week.
Report By Patrick Giffney