Macclesfield 24-14 Chester
Macclesfield hosted this Cheshire Derby match, in their first home encounter since making a change of Head Coach, putting Forwards and Defence Coach Marshall Gadd, and despite defeat looked a much better outfit against Stourbridge last week, scoring 4 tries. Chester were in buoyant mood following their mud wrestle 12-8 victory over high fliers Hinckley last week.
The visitors enjoyed some early possession but met a resilient home side defence who built on their new found positivity under Gadd and their defensive strength with a maul try with Blues’ legend Ryan Parkinson at the bottom in the 9th minute.
Chester lost Will Hyde to a real bad bash to the nose, early on and resulted in club Captain Guy Ford coming on sooner than he had probably expected but nevertheless they fought back hard, enjoying some long spells of possession in the Macc half but the home side seemed comfortable defending the phases, only yielding 3 points from the boot of Robins in the 13th minute. The Blues had a chance to go into the corner again but Tom Morton kicked it dead and a battle of scrums ensued as the sun went down and the shadows lengthened.
Chester were putting together more phases, enjoying the greater territory and making more breaks and this eventually told as the men in red entered the Blues ’22 and an offside pen allowed them to maul for the corner with Croft going over on 31 mins (the score 5-8 to Chester).
The possession had all but dried up for Macclesfield just before half time despite much of the play being in the middle of the park, but when they finally got the ball back pen was forced in the red zone and when the ball finally came wide James Hampson snuck into the corner with the forwards power laying the platform and setting up a 7 man overlap, Tom Morton added the extras and the teams headed in for half Time, the score 12-8 to the home side.
That try gave macc the momentum in the second half and a cracking set saw Lewis Winterbottom score almost immediately (17-8 after 45 minutes). Chester weren’t giving up and again dominated possession for a period and kick 6 points through Robins to make the home fans nervous. At times this season poor game management and silly mistakes have let sides take the game away from the Blues and for a short while it felt as if there maybe an exciting finish in store for the assembled masses. It was squeaky bum time when Tom Morton decided to have a along range shot at goal rather than kick to the corner after the pack had won a scrum penalty, and missed.
The home supporters were able to breath a bit easier, as the Blues managed to build some phases of their own and manage the game well through kick in behind to generate an opportunity in the Chester ’22, which went to waste but the pack were collasal and forced a turnover to earn the put in. The Chester forwards couldn’t live with the power as Tom Poole joined the pack and fresh legs came off the bench in the form of Liam Parfitt (back from a dead leg), and Bruce Lacey in the back row, and a penalty try was awarded sealing the 5 points the Club desperately needed to kick start their season.
Kyle Joseph and Alick Croft were impressive for the visitors while Ryan Parkinson led from the front as always for the Blues and nailing him down for another year this week was a big step for Marshall Gadd as he looks to rebuild around reliable performers, with the whole front row resigning too. Lewis Winterbottom had what was probably his best game in a Blues’ shirt, solid in defence and powerful in attack, but it was Myles Hall that seemed to stand out the most, playing on the wing but looking hungry for work and giving everything to get the Blues over the line.
The Blues defence was strong and the attack looked invigorated with room for improvement in terms of when to play and executing it, but now they have stopped the slide surely they must be looking for at least mid-table if not higher by April
Tries: Parkinson (8), Hampson (39), Winterbottom (44), Penalty Try (69)
Cons: Morton (40)
Tries: Croft (30)
Pens: Robins (13, 47, 51)
Cons: Robins (31)
Macclesfield (15-9, 1-8): Lomax, Hampson, Winterbottom, Davenport, Hall, Morton, Townsend and Mantell, Moss, Robinson, F. Barker, Burden, Twigg, Palmer, Parkinson (C).
Replacements: Nyemba, Poole, Lacey, Parfitt, Allsop.
Chester: Green, Preston, Foden, Payne, Rees, Robins, Holloway and Campbell, Croft, Hughes, Owen, White, Hyde, Baxter, Joseph.
Replacements: Strudwick, Parry, Baston, Reed, Ford.
Referee: Matt Turvey
Half-time: Macclesfield Chester
Star man: Myles Hall