Macclesfield stole a narrow victory in 80th minute to beat Tynedale 31-29 at Priory Park to extend their winning run to four games.
Tries from Dave Marwick, Matt Rhodes and two from Ed Styles on his debut earned the Blues a bonus point, while Tom Eaton’s late penalty was enough to win by just two points.
Tynedale were able to take control of possession in the opening stages of the match, and several weak tackles on Chris Harris allowed the full-back to run 40 yards and score after two minutes.
The Blues were able to respond soon after, as Eaton’s penalty attempt sailed through the posts to bring the score-line to 3-5.
The visitors continued to dictate the game and were passing the ball around well, coming close to scoring on several occasions.
After good holding of the ball by Matt Owen, Frankie Barker and Elliot Brierley combined well down the left to charge up the field.
However as possession switched Tynedale countered with pace, and as no. 8 Stuart Johnson found space through the centre and it was only Ed Styles’ last tackle that stopped the attack.
Winger Hamish Smales then brushed off several tackles to score down by the posts, Matt Outson converted to go 12-3 up.
Two minutes into the restart Ben Frankland scored in a similar fashion as he scored down the right past a stunned Blues defence. Outson converted again to give Tynedale a 19-3 lead.
The two consecutive tries spurred Macclesfield into action as the Blues searched for a way back into the match.
Frankie Barker was tackled into touch close to the goal line after receiving the ball from Dean Williams.
Dave Marwick was able to score from the resulting lineout, after a maul broke down close to the goal line the ball was switched to Marwick to drive over the line.
Five minutes later Ed Styles received the ball on the right wing and showed good vision to find the gaps and score on his first appearance for the club.
Styles scored his second just two minutes after, receiving the ball from O’Regan on the right wing he showed good pace to break through the defence and bring the score to 18-19.
Johnson came close in another attack for Tynedale after a clean break through the centre; however his sideways pass to captain Jack Harrison was fumbled.
Just before half-time Josh Fowles was tackled off the pitch just before the goal line as he tore down the right wing.
Macclesfield were guilty of sloppy tackling once again as winger Alex Fieldhouse ran down the line and scored five minutes into the second half, substitute George Cullen converting to go 26-18 ahead.
A second penalty from Eaton brought the score back to 26-21, as the Blues fought for a fourth try with 30 minutes left.
A missed penalty attempt from Cullen kept the pressure on both teams to take control of the match, and it wasn’t until the 63rd minute that the Blues took the advantage when Tynedale hooker David Cherry saw yellow.
This allowed Matt Rhodes to score Macclesfield’s fourth try to claim the bonus point, and Eaton’s conversion allowed the Blues to take the lead for the first time in the match.
With just ten minutes remaining Cullen was able to score from an ambitious penalty attempt from 40 yards out to edge Tynedale into the lead.
After struggling to break into the final third, Macclesfield were eventually able to force a penalty high up the field in the last minute close to the touchline up the left wing.
Captain Eaton kept his composure to find the target and secure the victory for the Blues after a very tense final 20 minutes.
Director of Rugby and Head Coach Geoff Wappett said: “It was a tight affair, the first 20 minutes all their scores came from a series of missed tackles.
“We were falling off tackles here there and everywhere, and it was soul destroying really. Two or three consecutive quick tries takes the wind out of you, but to be fair to the lads we did regroup and we got three scores of our own.
“After the first 40 minutes both sides had shed a fair bit of sweat and blood, but we were back to where we started when the first half finished 18-19.
“I was disappointed after half time that we conceded another try, again which arose from shabby, sloppy tackling.
“So we trailed for some time of that second half, but we were getting back into the game, and that second half was quite mixed.
“When we went behind with their late long range penalty kick, we just needed to get into that final third and create a scoring opportunity or a penalty decision, and we did.
“Whilst Tom hadn’t kicked particularly well up to that point he did brilliantly to score that penalty, it wasn’t far off the touchline and that won us the game.
“It was a close game and finished with two point’s difference, the important thing is that the two points were in our favour and I think we marginally deserved to win, we had to work hard against a good side.”
Talking about next week’s game against Richmond, Wappett has not ruled out a surprise result: “We’ve won our last four games, and while the margins were tight we are showing good resolve.
“They’ve lost today (Saturday 2nd), and they haven’t got an awful lot to play for, they’re not going to figure in the promotion battle, and they’ve done enough to not get dragged into the relegation fight, so we should be a lot hungrier for this game.”
Speaking about his last minute penalty attempt, Captain and Fly-Half Tom Eaton said: “There was definitely a lot of pressure taking that kick. I asked the referee how long was left; it was just over a minute, and I just fancied it.
“It was a tough kick but it was the best I’d struck a ball all day. We needed it, and it seems like that’s the way it’s written these days.
“We’re desperate every week, and we need to keep that desperation. It’s not the case of we’re a winning side, it’s a case of we’re a side that needs to win; we’ve got to take that momentum down to Richmond next week.”
Next week the Blues travel down to 8th placed Richmond, for updates throughout the match follow our Twitter account here: https://twitter.com/maccrufc
15 – Ed Styles, 14 – Matt O’Regan, 13 – Elliot Brierley, 12 – Tom Davenport, 11 – Josh Fowles, 10 – Tom Eaton, 9 – Matt Rhodes, 1 – Tom Mantell, 2 – Tom Cruse, 3 – Rikki Stout, 4 – Matt Owen, 5 – Dean Williams, 23 – Dave Marwick, 7 – Ryan Parkinson, 8 – Frankie Barker, 16 – Dave Blackwell, 17 – Gavin Woods, 18 – Mike Finnemore, 19 – Matt King, 20 – Chris Townsend