7th January 2018

The Blues are Back!

Macclesfield recorded a long overdue win last week against local rivals Chester and their first under Interim Head Coach Marshall Gadd and were looking to pick up back to back wins for the first time since the last two games of their N2N title winning season in April 2016, at Crow Trees where they met a youthful Blaydon side, and it so it transpired that the home side were brushed aside by bigger and stronger forwards alike who in the first half ran at them almost non-stop.

The Blues took a commanding 35-10 lead in at the break having scored 5 tries of various methodology showing how diverse this team’s abilities are. James Hampson will have many checking the record books and a certain Lee Blackett (Wasps Backs’ Coach-holder of the premiership record for quickest try while playing at Leeds) sweating as James Hampson set the ball rolling when he picked up the kick off after one bounce and ran in for a try I personally times at 10 seconds on the nose.

The home side replied immediately as the Macc forwards marched a scrum forward but left the ball behind and the inspirational Laughlin (no. 8) powered over. 4 and a half minutes on the clock and a try at either end. The spectators didn’t have time to sip their drinks as the Blues made the most of their superiority at the scrum again, this time, in the Blaydon 22 and Ryan Parkinson picked up then pumped his legs over the line with 2 men hanging behind him. 

Believe it or not the game went quiet for a period after that with both sides enjoying some possession and territory but no major incident took place before Captain Parkinson broke through the red line and offloaded beautifully for Tom Morton to score and convert himself (24th minute 21-5). The Blues were getting into their stride and Parkinson was showing how important a player he is when even his decoy run put the defence on their heals just enough to allow the robust Tom Burden to go through and under the sticks from 30 metres out. Perhaps they took their foot off the gas for a moment when James Borthwick offloaded in the tackle and despite James Hampson catching the linebreaker he was powerless to stop the offload to Daniel Marshall, in the 31st minute. That appear to revitalize Macc and a classy bit of vision from Morton put Hampson in again breaking down the wing just outside the ’22.

Its hard to know what the team talk was in either dressing room at half time, but Blaydon certainly weren’t giving up where as at times it looked like perhaps The Blues were giving the young North Easterners a chance. A couple of linebreaks were not converted and possession given up in dangerous areas put the travelling fans on their toes. They were looking at their watches on 64 minutes as the home side had pulled it back to 38-29 after tries from Stevenson, Appleton and Davidson met only by a Morton penalty. The Blues looked a little ragged as they fell off tackles and suffered a number of linebreaks in a twenty-minute period the Cheshire side will undoubtedly look back on with concern in their review and brought back memories of their last visit to this ground last year in National One where they held on for a 24-24 draw having had a 21-point lead at half time.

However, those fears were put to bed as the Priory Park outfit emptied the bench, regained their composure as the introduction of Lewis Barker at Full Back brought a little extra magic and after putting 21 phases together Barker found a gap to put Dan Lomax through from 23 metres in the 70th minute.

The points were ultimately assured 5 minutes later when Barker broke the line again despite appearing isolated in kick reception and a penalty was put to the corner and but who else other than Ryan Parkinson was at the back of the Blue Maul Machine, picking up his 100th try in NCA rugby. Tom Morton kicked the conversion from the touchline to complete a 100% record for the day and looks to be getting back to his best rugby having left Sale Sharks in the summer.

This was certainly one for the neutrals but both sides will be looking at their defensive lapses in training this week. Perhaps Macclesfield were always going to struggle to maintain the intensity of the first half and Blaydon were not going to take a thrashing lying down. The Cheshire outfits have won 2 of their last 3 since the change of management and score 101 points so appear to be getting their mojo back. The most pleasing thing for Marshall Gadd’s men must be the confidence they appear to be building and their ability to score from a range of sources. It’s likely to be a meaty affair at home to Huddersfield next week at Priory Park, one not to be missed as the Macclesfield Blues go hunting for 3 W’s in a row.