18th February 2018

South Leicester had won only 3 in their last 10 but only 1 defeat at home, to Hinley 2 weeks ago, where as the Blues had lost disappointingly to Sheffield Tigers last time out and their home derby to Sale was called off last week. The Blues won the  last meeting between these teams back at Priory Park in one of only 3 wins Macclesfield enjoyed in their first 12 games. Both teams appeared to have injury concerns with regular number 8 Joe Collingham stepping in to the second row for the home side who appeared to pick a big side. The Blues forced into a number of changes but a positive being a large amount of energy in their selection with the likes of Phil Laing, Matt Thorp and Sam Broster in the centre.

The home side started the better turning over the kick off reception maul and after a number of phases their pacey left winger Myles Bean stepped 2 defenders to score after 2 mins.

The Blues struck back immediately, with home side indiscipline allowing them up field wit penalties’ and Captain for the day Dave Marwick ordered the kick to the corner, and after a powerful 16m maul Billy Robinson powered over on 5 mins (7-7).

The visitors had to weather a brief storm as the hosts enjoyed possession and territory but failed to find a way through the Blues’ defence and at times the the ‘South’ kicking let them down.

Macclesfield managed to wrestle their way back in to the middle of the park and both sides played out scrappy attacks ending in poor kicks before, on 20 mins, Myles Hall went under the posts after the architect Tom Morton found a gap and tee’d him up (7-14).

The small crowd were doing their part being very vocal, some of the travelling support feeling the referee was not stepping in to tidy up a messy breakdown area with Green and White bodies working hard to slow down those in Blue, while the home side enjoyed a couple of ’22 entries that in truth were handed to them from Macc mistakes and indiscipline. The Blues didn’t have it all their own way at the scrum either which the lads had to adapt to quickly.

Ricky Aley took 3 points when Lewis Barker was trapped on top of the carrier off his feet under the posts on 34 mins (10-14), before a beautiful well worked move saw Joe Palmer put in in the corner just before the break (10-19).

Almost immediately after the restart the Cheshire side made a fatal mistake in allowing Bean room to sprint and his lightening pace saw him go 70-odd metres on the kick return to score and make it a nail biting affair (17-19).

The game was opening up a bit and although many of the good performances the Blues have had this season have been built on forward supremacy, it was the backs who were looking pretty silky, despite the centre pairing being pretty much a forced selection with Sam Broster and Lewis Barker after the late withdrawal of Tom Davenport. Dan Lomax chipped and collected a kick return to move upfield, offloaded and the backs put the ball through hands until Lewis Barker had sight of the try line, backed himself on 49 minutes, only to be denied by a last ditch tackle in the corner by SL 9 Jacob Ham.

South Leicester looked like they had cleared their lines form the the resulting lineout maul having been awarded a penalty, only for Aley to miss touch, and from the resulting attack, the dynamic duo hwo are enjoying an exciting partnership, Morton and Lewis Barker combined to put Laing through and from the next phase Allsop pulled in the defender to put Barker under the posts to extend the lead to 26-17.

South Leicester weren’t giving up as moments later they broke through off a first phase move and the kick ahead by their 13 to the corner was just a fraction slow to bounce for the winger as Myles Hall got across to force him into touch.

The pen count for both team was racked up as the referee looked to tighten things up and on 64 minutes this gave the Blues the chance to kick to the corner and after another successful maul Sam Moss emerged with the ball making it 31-17 to the travelling team.

The home side butchered opportunities in the opposition ’22 before indiscipline let the men in Blue off the hook and from a first phase move, the pacey and powerful Sam Broster wriggled free to set up Lewis Barker to score again on 69 minutes to put the result beyond doubt at 17-38.

The home side went in search of the try bonus point and even though the Blues were put under trendendous pressure for the last 10 minutes and kept pinning themselves back with silly turnovers and penalties, they managed to repel multiple waves of attack limiting their hosts to 1 try.

Final Score 24-38 to the Blues. This was probably the beat all round performance of the season in truth, as the forwards and backs contributed to the win. The backs were pacey and played with confident, skill and guile. Barker, Morton and Broster in particularly were excellent and in the patched up pack, Phil Laing making his first start in a couple of years was tireless, Matt Thorp took his chance in the absence of captain Ryan Parkinson and the set piece operated very well to provide the platform for attacks with 9 out of 13 first phase moves being executed to plan.

BluesTV gave Sam Broster the man of the match while the clubhouse post match gave it to Lewis Barker but really all 20 contributed immensely and this will give the Priory Park outfit the confidence to play with freedom in their must win re-arranged encounter with struggler Sheffield, at home next weekend.