Macclesfield continue their impressive run of form by picking up an away 27-24 win at Cambridge.
Captain Tom Eaton’s late penalty was the difference between the two sides, as Sam Moss, Martin Kent, Dave Marwick and Tom Mantell all contributed to the score-line to pick up the bonus point.
Cambridge took an early lead after just two minutes as pacey winger Patrick Tapley scored down the right wing, fly-half Harry Key was on-target with the conversion to go 7-0 up.
Tapley caused havoc once again as he charged through the centre after his kicked ball, but was tackled close to the Macclesfield goal line; the Blues able to get behind the ball to stop the attack.
Both sides struggled to hold on to the ball which turned over several times; the cold weather making ball control difficult as fumbles were made.
Ryan Parkinson found space after receiving the ball in a lineout, his run through the defence was stopped 20 yards from the goal line and Cambridge were able to force a penalty to switch possession.
After 27 minutes Eaton was given a yellow for holding a player’s shirt who was clean to break, Harry Key’s penalty attempt was on-target to extend the lead to 10-0.
Big tackles from the forwards made scoring opportunities difficult for the home side, and after chances from both sides were blocked, it took until the 40th minute for Sam Moss to score from a powerful driving maul.
Martin Kent was then able to score minutes into the second half as the Blues came close several times until Kent crossed the line by the posts.
Eaton’s conversion gave the Blues a 12-10 lead, and Macclesfield were able to push forward and search for a third try.
Blues Full-back Matt King did well to make the last tackle on centre John Hale and strong defending from Matt O’Regan resulted in Macclesfield back on the offensive.
After strong runs from Dean Williams and Tom Cruse put Cambridge on the back foot, Mantell crashed over the line after strong pressure from the Blues; Eaton converted to go 19-10.
Five minutes later Dave Marwick scored down the left to claim a valuable bonus point, the conversion wide as the Blues secured a comfortable lead.
However, Cambridge were not ready to give up without a fight and with 15 minutes remaining the home side scored twice to bring the score to 24-24.
Tapley scored his second of the game down by the posts, substitute kicker Elliot Bale converted.
No. 8 Stephen Hipwell then scored after a nervous ten minutes for the Blues defence, Bale converting again to level the score-line.
With less than ten minutes remaining, Tom Eaton showed good composure once more to convert a penalty kick from 30 yards to edge back into the lead, and despite several scoring opportunities from Cambridge came close, the Blues were able to hold on and take the win.
Director of Rugby and Head Coach Geoff Wappett was pleased with the win: “We’ve got bits of work to do, but we’ve had two away trips and two wins, and that’s fantastic.
“Our spirits should be high, and we came through the game without any injuries, and recently that hasn’t been the case.
“We didn’t play as well as I would have hoped in the first half in the sense that we had planned to keep it tighter and play closer to the forwards, we were winning the ball and then going wide too quickly and turning the ball over, and that resulted in the first try they scored.
“I was pleased that we got back in touch with the try before half-time, and that gave me the chance to readdress certain areas, and I thought the next 20 minutes after half-time we really ripped into them and got to 24-10.
“At the next scrummage they scored, and then they scored again and all of a sudden it was 24 a-piece, I was disappointed then because our tackling got a bit slack, we got a bit sloppy.
“But just like recent games we won by a narrow margin, three months ago we’d have lost these games.
“A lot of that is to do with our hardened attitude; we’re much more mature and just tougher mentally. We just need to be a little bit sharper and smarter on the tackling front.
“We had Tom Davenport back which is good to see, and we should now have Tom Cruse for the rest of the season.
“In the next few weeks we will have Ed Styles, a full-back from Rotherham. Ricki Stout will also be returning, while Chris Jones should be available for selection soon.
“If we can put Tynedale to bed and get four or five points out of them at home next week, which we should expect ourselves to as we beat them away, then we’ll be four on the trot and running hot for when we go down to Richmond in two weeks.”
Next week the Blues host 12th placed Tynedale at Priory Park for a 3.00pm kick-off, if you can’t make it to the match follow the updates here: https://twitter.com/MaccRUFC
15 – Matt King, 14 – Peter Hardwick, 13 – Elliot Brierley, 12 – Matt O’Regan, 11 – Josh Fowles, 10 – Tom Eaton, 9 – Matt Rhodes, 1 – Gavin Woods, 2 – Sam Moss, 3 – Martin Kent, 4 – Tom Mantell, 5 – Dean Williams, 6 – Dave Marwick, 7 – Ryan Parkinson, 8 – Matt Owen, 16 – Tom Cruse, 17 – Mike Finnemore, 18 – Jonathan Kenny, 19 – Tom Davenport, 20 – George Baxter