Macclesfield 35 – 38 Tynedale

Tynedale were riding high after a couple of indifferent seasons in National 2 North while the Blues appear to be having a tricky spell of their own but having given second in the league Hinckley a good examination last week, despite the scoreline, and a win the week before Blues’ fans may have thought their side were turning the corner.


Hinckley 42 – 7 Macclesfield

Leicester Road, Hinckley
N2N
4th November 2017

by Matt Coleridge

See Highlights on BluesTV:

https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=T3z5d3No3Xc

Macclesfield were buoyed by their hard fought win over South Leicester last week, earning 4 points that they really needed after only winning 3 from 9 so far this season. Third place Hinckley who applied their trade in N2 South last year have only lost North Sale FC and Sedgley so despite being unbeaten at home, they had reason to fear another team from that area.

It was the visiting team in Blue who started the brighter, with Myles Hall chasing down Lewis Barker’s first time kick that was put in the in goal area, the Welshman had the penalty coming but it was an inspired moment of improvisation all the same. Barker’s conversion made it 7-0 after 5 minutes.

Last weeks’ win over South Leicester really was down to the forwards and they picked up where they left off, holding up the first Hinckley entry into the Blues’ ’22, and then a big scrum allowed Ryan Parkinson and Rhodri Mayor to canter up field and clear.

Despite playing with the benefit of quite a noticeable slope in the first half Hinckley struggled to break down Macclesfield although they did enter the red zone on a number of occasions. Missed tackles allowed Gareth Turner to break but he couldn’t make his offload stick and minutes later the Blues’ repelled a number of maul initiated attacks. But the territorial pressure boiled over and scrum half Joe Glover sniped over from a maul (7-7 after 15 minutes).

The scrum battle was edged by the visitors in the first half but following a debatable penalty lost on their own ball that the men in yellow and black put into the corner and again the pressure told as James Skerritt powered over (14-7 on 23 mins).

Much the remaining play in the first half took place between the two ‘22’s, if anything perhaps more in Hinckley’s half as the Blues’ defence worked hard to prevent their big opponents gaining ground, while a few opportunities were created with Charlie Reed putting a kick through in behind for Rhodri Mayor on an overlap and the forwards had a chance to maul for the line but were pinged for accidental obstruction. The Macc defence had to keep out one more huge attack which was vital to staying in the game and only a fine rip in contact by Sam Moss before a Lewis Barker clearance prevented the home side possibly pulling out of range before half time. As mentioned the Blues probably were the stronger side at scrum time in that first period and it was through the fine efforts of the 8 men up front that a penalty was earnt just before the break only for Barker’s kick to hit the post (14-7 HT).

For the first 10 minutes after the break the Blues looked the more likely making a couple of fine breaks that they couldn’t convert and defended like lions, even turning over a home side scrum 45 metres out but Charlie Reeds hopeful long range effort at goal sailed to the left of the posts. In the next attack it appeared that the midlandsers’ were adapting to their visitors phase play getting off the line quicker, slowing the breakdown more and chancing their arm at scragging Chris Townsend at the base of the ruck and it was on one such occasion the visitors yielded a penalty that put them back in their own ’22 and seemed to take the game out of reach as Mitch Lamb broke through to score on 52 minutes and 7 minutes later the home side scored again through James Martin, earning the bonus point for Macclesfield’s hosts, having latched on to the impressive Joe Glover’s break and offload.

The Cheshire side did have opportunities in the remainder, but couldn’t keep possession long enough to make a dent in the scoreline. The game was becoming more and more frantic as it entered the final quarter both sides breaking each over and turning the ball over frequently, with neither side dominating territory but the difference was that the travelling side were not making their tackles stick at the most important time and this was the case when Martin scored off first phase on 72 minutes, stepping full back Charlie Reed in the process.

The Blues had emptied the bench by this point so valuable experience was earned for Dominic Sheratte, Tom Poole and Tom Burden who has returned from International duty with Israel, Tom Morton made his first appearance of the season, and it was the first appearance of latest signing Flanker Toby Twigg, formerly of Colwyn Bay outfit RGC (like Barker and Mayor) who made one break from a powerful carry in midfield, but that was the problem for Macc, the later in the game it got the deeper the breaks were in their own half.

In the last minute number 8 for Hinckley latched on to an offload to break the line and finish to cap off a good day for his men but they had to fight hard for it despite what looked like a comprehensive scoreline, 42-7. The defence has yielded 262 points which is 7th best in the league, but there are only 4 teams who have scored less points so our boys need to find that missing something in attack. The Blues sit 12th on 16 points after 10 games but with the likes of Morton returning from injury, Hampson a couple of weeks away and Matt King playing for the seconds today, they may be able to provide that missing something.


Sale FC 19 – 3 Macclesfield Blues

 
BluesTV Highlights:
 
The blues travelled the short hop to South Manchester to meet their local rivals and old foe, who are in contrasting form having narrowly missed out on promotion to National 1 last year and had a big recruitment drive in the summer attracting some glittering names to the club. While the Blues have lost 4 on the bounce Sale sit in 5th coming off the back of a win at home to Hinkley and a nail biting 7-5 defeat to Tynedale last week. The Blues looked a bit more like their old selves last week in attack against Sheffield Tigers scoring 7 tries but unfortunately the lively Tigers midfield took advantage of some defensive frailties. Liam Parfitt captained the side after valiant recent performances and Max Smith’s horrific leg break.
 
For 39 minutes the first half was a bit of a non event especially as it was a local derby. Sale made the most of their early territorial advantage picking up 6 points from fly half Chris Johnson’s boot. The Blues fought back and had a 5 minute spell of territory which yielded 3 points from Lewis Barker, but perhaps Macc will feel they should have taken more from that visit to the opposition 22 on 19 mins. There was only really one break to speak of when former Blue Jack Moorhouse picked and jumped through a ruck but Lewis Barker hunted him down which surely saved a try.
 
Macclesfield clearly had come in to this game with a better looking approach to exits and game management, and defended very well for extensive numbers of phases with out looking too troubled. The bulk of the game was played in the midfield and there wasn’t much for the fans to chew on other than the kicking battle which was a stalemate in the first period.
 
The Blues seemed to have the edge at the scrum, Billy Robinson and Brendan Berry pushing back Birchall and Pope regularly but in truth, the line out was a mess for both sides. Macclesfield had won only 2 from10 at half time, having been repeatedly picked off and didn’t seem to learn lessons by calling to the same spot, and Sale had only one 2 from 7 with the referee adjudicating that there had been a number of not straight arrows.
 
And with talk of the referee we come to this weeks refereeing…well lets call it what it is, balls up. Matt Turvey hadn’t had the best of starts to the day having shown up late so both captains had to break off from their respective warm ups ten minutes before kick off to do the toss, and then for the second of Johnson’s 3 pointers it was determined that Barker had not rolled away quick enough even though he bounced and reloaded and no ruck was ever formed. So bearing this and the fact that the Blues have been on a terrible run of luck in refereeing decisions in mind, those of us in the stands shouldn’t have been so surprised that not one of the 3 officials witnessed the swinging arm from home lock Gaz Rawlings as he entered a ruck, and when prop Brendan Berry attempted a counter ruck against him he was greeted with a punch in the face from the same opponent. Turvey gave a breakdown penalty against Macc and 3 phases later Sale went over in the corner. If Rawlings of Turvey take to the field in N2N next week it will raise questions about the disciplinary system. 
 
This is the latest in a long line of officiating errors as fans will recall thus enforcing the feeling that when things aren’t going your way they really don’t go your way – anyway rant over. 
 

13-3 to the home side at half time

 
Johnson began the second half pretty much where he left off as the condition deteriorated, kicking a pen on 54 mins (16-3). The teams were struggling to control the ball which was more like a bar of soap, and the game descended into a bit of a ten man game which to be fair, Chris Johnson seemed to revel in. His constant nudging the ball into the spaces left full back Charlie Reed wondering where on earth to stand as he could not cover every blade of grass required. Johnson struck again on 64 minutes after a scrum pen was won by the Sale front row which was far stronger with Oli Longmore at  hooker.
 
When the Blues did manage to force a pen from the kick off and get some territory in the home sides’ all their hard work was foiled by who else but the officials. Rawlings had been yellow card for an intention knock on at the line out and from the Blues scrum Sam Moss clearly powered over and put the ball down (see BluesTV highlights for a slow mo) but was ruled out by the linesman for a knock on. 19-10 with 13 minutes left on the clock it was game on. This decision appeared to deflate Macclesfield slightly, as despite spending a further 5 minute spell in the Sale ’22 they were unable to take anything away and Chris Johnsons’ kicking lesson resumed until full time.
 
Another loss for the Blues but a far more encouraging one, defensively and from a game management point of view. The lads look a little short on confidence which is to be expected and the loss of recent talisman Liam Parfitt to a shoulder knock at half time didn’t help but the introduction of Josh Degroot was positive and she of the injured players coming back in the next couple of weeks should be a lift.
 
South Leicester are the next opponents, who visit Priory Park next week, when the lads will look to kick start their season, referee willing of course.
 
Macclesfield: 15. Reed 14. Broster 13. Winterbottom 12. Davenport 11. Parry 10. L. Barker 9. Townsend and 1. Berry 2. Sheratte 3. Robinson 4. F. Barker 5. Marwick 6. Degroot 7. Parfitt (C) 8. Palmer
Replacements: 16. Moss 17. Poole 18. Jones 19. Lacey 20. Mayor 
 
Scorers
Tries: Dolly – Sale 40
Conversions: Johnson – Sale 40
Penalties: Johnson – Sale x4 6, 11, 54, 64 L. Barker – Macclesfield 19

Macclesfield 45 – 55 Sheffield Tigers

Macclesfield RUFC 45 – 55 Sheffield Tigers

Macclesfield came into this off the back of 3 straight defeats and found themselves in the unfamiliar surroundings of the bottom half as Sheffield had the same record, 2 win from 6.

The visitors scored first in a first half that defied belief, with winger Pond going over in their first attack with Charlie Reed stepping out to try the pass intercept only to provide a gap to go through instead when they appeared to be numbered up in defence. Reed went some way towards making up for his mistake playing a lovely flat pass to put lock Franky Barker through the gap who set up Sam Parry to finish well.

The teams exchanged tries again, with Jamie Broadley finding a gap in the midfield due to a slow drift by Billy Robinson, before Lewis Winterbottom rounded off a move where Sam Parry had latched on to Chris Townsend’s box kick and Max Smith broke through. That was the highlight of Winterbottom’s day as he struggled to deal with the electric Broadley. From then on what ensued for the remainder of the half can barely be described as anything other than chaos from a home point of view.

Sheffield scored 4 more tries before half time, which were almost all from home side mistakes, turnovers and poor exits that the highly impressive Sheffield backs ran back through gaping gaps. Mellor scored 2, Packard 1 and Broadley grabbed his second. The Blues actually looked the better and more likely in phase play but they seemed to force the play when they got field position and butcher their chances while loosing 2 of their own scrums didn’t help either and the same could be said for some of Referee Mick Harris’ interpretation of when the ball was out of the ruck and what lying on top of the ruck actually was but in reality the Macc lads had no one to blame but themselves. The half time score stood at an incredible 14-42 with Mark Ireland adding insult to injury from the kicking tee.

The Cheshire side knew they had an uphill task to win and so started quickly with a moment of brilliance from Sam Parry to score.

But the fightback was temporarily suspended as an horrific injury saw Blues Captain Smith suffer a broken leg and was stretchered off to the ambulance with his season almost certainly over. We should point out that the medical staff responded immediately and with total professionalism, with the visiting physio assisting Blues Physio Ross Mitchell and Doctor Phillip Gruenback. Smith has posted images of his leg in cast since and so appears to be in decent spirits despite the experience and we wish him the best in his recovery.

After the restart full back Dan Lomax went over on 44 minutes after a great break by half time sub Tom Davenport, 28-42 – game on! Hopes of a comeback were temporarily dented when Swatkins finished a break 6 minutes later, having identified an overlap on the short side, before Macclesfield claimed the next 3 scores through 2 mauls (Sherratte at the bottom of both) and Parry again with another impressive sub Bruce Lacey involved. 45-50 with 9 minutes to go…could the impossible happen??

But Macc had turned the ball over too easily all day and another ball spilling out of a ruck fell to the lightening Broadley who and just been to quick all game, and made the result safe for the visitors in the 76th minute. The Blues went in search of a bonus point and their final attack reaped a penalty on the ’22 right of centre which Reed opted to kick at goal but missed with the last kick of the game.

Some more young lads performed well today, with Lacey making an impression from the bench, Burden making his first start in the row and Sam Parry picked up a hat trick. But the real performer was Liam Parfitt, who finished the game as captain and appeared to revel in the responsibility. The former Sale Shark and England Counties’ U18 international carried like an animal constantly powering over the tackle line, and seemed to be everywhere in defence.

Sale away for Macc next, the games get no easier but as Crystal Palace showed in Football’s Premier League today, perhaps the biggest performance of the season so far will come in the face of our toughest test?

Macclesfield RUFC

Tries: Parry (11, 41, 69); Winterbottom (23); Lomax (44); Sherratte (58, 73)
Conversions: Reed (12, 24, 42, 45,74)
Penalties: Reed missed (80)
Drop goals:
Sin Bins: 
Red Cards: 
 

Sheffield Tigers

Tries: Pond (9); Broadley (20, 30, 76); Mellor (26, 37); Packard (40); Swatkins (51) 
Conversions: Ireland (10, 21, 27, 31, 38, 41)
Penalties: Ireland (55)
Drop goals:
Sin Bins: 
Red Cards:
 
Attendance: 251
Referee: Mick Harris
Half-time: 18-42
Star man: Jamie Broadley (Sheffield) and Liam Parfitt (Macclesfield)
 
Macclesfield (1-8 and 15-9): Berry, Nyemba, Robinson, F. Barker, Burden, Palmer, Parfitt, Thorp and Lomax, Broster, Winterbottom, Smith (c), Parry, Reed, Townsend
Replacements: Sherratte, Poole, Marwick, Lacey, Davenport.
 
Sheffield Tigers (1-8 and 15-9): Bennett, Coates, Simmons, Nesbit, Ellis, Wragg (c), Symcox, Walker and Mellor, Pond,Broadley, Wallace, Packard, Ireland, Holmes
Replacements: De Haan, Hopkins, Monks, Orton, Swatkins

Sedgley 35 – 15 Macclesfield Blues

by Matt Coleridge 

The Blues came into this match in unfamiliar form for this league at least, off the back of 2 no bonus point losses against bottom half opposition while Sedgley have had contrasting fortunes under new coach Matt Bebbington, who actually spent some shadowing the Macclesfield backroom staff last season learning what he could, winning four out of five.

On another wet, soggy day The Cheshire side started with the bulk of possession but made little headway before Sedgley struck first. Nick Allsop’s box kick was too long for his own players and the home side’s back 3 ran it back down the opposite wing, Andy Riley the man touching down after Jamie Harrison made the gap for him for 5 minutes in.

Macc had an opportunity in the Sedge ’22 but were unable to take advantage before surrendering territory for a long spell, unable to get out of their own 22 for much of that period although they defended well and were careful not to give away any penalties.

Eventually the Blues managed to work their way  up field, in no small way thanks to their kicking game, and Myles Hall finished off in the corner after a Joe Palmer offload following a lateral backs’ move off the platform laid by the forwards in the Lancashire team’s ’22.

But Sedge were having none of that and immediately truck back with Ashley Platt-Hughes latching onto Matt Riley’s offload after he had busted through the Blues’ defence off a lineout on the half hour.

Macc managed to collect three points from the boot of Lewis Barker from in front of the posts after another ’22 visit, before they botched an exit maul and Harrison took full advantage scoring in the corner from the turnover on the stroke of half time (21-10).

If the lads had had a stern talking to at half time it hadn’t taken effect yet when Sedgley’s winger Glass retained a chip and chase on the kick return from the kick off exit, and Birtwell picked and carried over despite the close attention of 3 defenders only to be held up but Steve Collins’ got his hands free from the tackle from the scrum and Ashley Platt-Hughes was again the recipient to go under the posts (28-10 after 43 minutes).

The Blues were sparked into life, putting together numerous phases and gaining metres more regularly now playing close off the ruck, and also managed the game a lot better in the second half pegging the home side back. However, numerous lineouts in advanced positions were not retained and therefore Sedgley were repeatedly let off the hook without too much effort being demanded of them. This weeks’ big refereeing question mark will remain ‘did Matt Thorp ground the ball?’. The men in blue made in roads into the Tiger’s red zone thanks to a powerful break from lock Franky Barker only for Lancashire veteran Steve Collins to be yellow carded for in the way of the pass off 9 at the next phase. From the resulting scrum Allsop put Thorp through a gap to all but get over, putting both arms out over his head backwards only for the last man to ‘knee’ the ball out of his hands before grounding…according to the ref, although perhaps it was justice as there appeared to be suspicious pass earlier in the set. 

If the comeback was to happen it needed to start there and so it was a little overdue when Nico Nyemba managed to get his maiden Macclesfield score on their next visit to the Sedge ’22, on 68 minutes (28-15). It was a nice moment for Nyemba after a tough performance last week at the lineout and to be fair his carrying was strong all day today. That was the Blues’ last visit to the home side’s line and it was they who wrestled back control after a long series of exchanges in the middle of the park and a maul penalty allowed them to kick to the corner and maul over to complete the victory (35-15).

Special mention should be made to Sedge’s 10 Steve Collins who manoeuvred them around the park well, centre Matt Riley was a gainline threat as always and Rob Birtwell was a strong contender for man of the match also but despite the result that tag should be reserved for a Macclesfield player, as flanker Liam Parfitt, formerly of England U18s Counties and Sale Sharks put in a blistering display that he and the club should be very proud of. He fronted up well where others did not and played with real physicality in attack and defence, pretty much covering every blade of grass in the process.

This run is starting to become a bit of a concern for Macclesfield as 2 out of 6 is not the start they would have hoped for but then again we are only 6 games in and if we recall Premiership Champions Exeter Chiefs started with 6 defeats last year so we should remember nothing is final in October except September. But the boys do need to start out enthusing the opposition and taking the physical game to them rather than finding the motivation on the hour when the game needs to be clawed back and silly errors that concede territory and possession need eradicating. However the amount of youngsters being blooded and the way they are stepping up is encouraging for the long term, of note Israel’s Tom Burden.

Coaches’ Perspective – Giles Heagerty

“We were naïve today I think, that would be the best way to describe it, we got to give credit to Sedgley they were physical they certainly probably out-enthused us I nthat first half for sure, and I think probably cost us as it left us with far too much to do, but we just have to get a little bit more swagger back in our step.’

See the BluesTV highlights here:

https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=njG-BnuBXDs

Macclesfield Squad:

  1. Berry   2. Nyemba   3. Robinson  4. F. Barker   5. Marwick  6. Palmer   7. Parfitt 8. Thorp  9. Allsop   10. L. Barker    11. Hall   12. Davenport  13 Smith ©  14. Parry   15. Reed 16. Sherratte  17. Poole   18.  Lacey   19. Burden   20. Broster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Blues 12 – 25 Leicester Lions

Leicester Lions came to Macclesfield on the back of 4 straight defeats, the most recent at home to Tynedale last week when they were beaten with a try in the last play of the game so were hoping for better luck on their trip to Cheshire and that’s what they found.

Macclesfield, who were on the end of a surprising loss to Huddersfield last weekend, got off to a great start applying territorial pressure right from the off leading to Lion’s talisman 10, Jonathan Boden, being forced into a cross kick which found Macclesfield’s welsh wizard winger Rhodri Mayor who ran it back from 23 metres unopposed after ten minutes. Blues were in the driving seat after 10 minutes.

Any sluggishness Leicester may have had from the trip was soon dusted off though, and a long spell in the home side’s ’22 culminated in Winger Devon Constant latching on to a nicely placed grubber kick from full back Morgan to round off a 15 phase build up on 18 minutes.

The visitors returned to the hosts’ ’22 shortly after and home try scorer Mayor turned villain as he was sin-binned for an intentional knock on but its fair to say that the Welshman was clearly trying to catch a ball that would have put him under the posts if he had held on. After another patient spell of pressure, prop Liam Hills put the visitors in the lead (5-10 on the half hour).

Macclesfield showed their resilience as veteran lock David Marwick crossed, after patient phase building rugby had allowed them into the midlands’ sides’ ’22 and the forwards powered The Blues back in front.

Ill discipline allowed that lead to slip A late penalty to Leicester put the away side ahead 13-12 before the break, with Boden adding 3 off the tee before the big turning point in the match. Blues’ Sam Moss, playing his 252nd match for the club, was sent off for a head butt after a number of feisty exchanges between the two teams with a lot more going on at some rucks than rucking from observations and post match discussion. The footage was inconclusive so the assistant referee’s statement is likely to be the key evidence at his hearing, too bad he wasn’t as alert to a number of forward passes, knock on’s and cheap shots that went on through the game. 13-12 to the visiting side at half time and Macclesfield down to 14 men.

The conditions meant that the second half really didn’t make good viewing for the neutral, with the majority of the play inbetween the ‘22’s as both sides wrestled for control of the game and to get the territorial upper hand.

Another major incident in the match occurred on 43 minutes when the burley winger Constant forearmed and ultimately elbowed the advancing Chris Jones after catching a high ball, right under the aforementioned assistant referee’s nose, but appeared not to warrant action, not even stopping the game for the seemingly unconscious Jones. It is a shame though, as Constant has been one of the most highly rated wingers in National 2 North for years and left a sour taste. There were also some exchanges between the Lion’s players and sections of the crowd as a result. A nasty spell ensued with the Lions’ hooker Taylor and tight head prop Hills among those who appeared to have lost control, not to mention the referee Ben Rayner, and there were bad tempered incidents going on with worrying frequency.

When the feistiness settled, and the rugby resumed, the visiting side managed to get on top territorially and applied the pressure in increasing grim conditions before Blues’ flanker Joe Palmer sin- binned for holding on on his own try line and from the resulting scrum, Morgan went over in the corner and with Boden adding the extra 2 points The Blues needed something to get back within bonus point range.

The crowd took great delight when Lions’ lock Alexander Knight was sin-binned for blocking Lewis Barker who was taken out chasing his own chip, and Charlie Reed nudged the Blues into the Leicester ’22 for only the first time in the half but lost the resulting lineout. A series of mistakes in the difficult conditions lead to the home side being stuck in their own 22 and gave up a 13th penalty of the match which the men in purple drove over for their bonus point.

In truth, Leicester were deserved winners, with Macclesfield possibly out fought…literally at times, but Boden managed the game well and Leicester did not make the same mistakes in their own half that the home side did to welcome pressure. Perhaps Macclesfield could have kicked less ball but they tried to adapt to the conditions. It’s a slightly sticky spell for the Blues’ at the moment with 2 losses in 2 weeks to 2 teams who were in the bottom half, but the injury list is long and a number of youngsters have been blooded and special mention should be made to Tom Burden, our Israeli international, who came on and added great physicality and energy again, Sam Parry, our Spanish international who gave some pacey impetus and most of all Lewis Winterbottom at 13 who showed good defensive leadership. Flanker Liam Parfitt worked tirelessly as did Prop Brendan Berry and Lewis Barker could not really have tried anything else to get the result for his team.

We have a long way to go so lets back the Blues.

#standbyyourblues

Macclesfield RUFC 12-25 Leicester Lions

Macclesfield RUFC

Tries: Mayor, 10, Marwick, 36

Conversions: Baker, 36

Penalties:

Drop goals:

Sin Bins: Mayor, 26 and Palmer 72

Red Cards: Moss, 40

Leicester Lions

Tries: Constant, 18, Hills, 29, Morgan, 74, Taylor, 79

Conversions: Boden, 79

Penalties: Boden, 39, 

Drop goals:

Sin Bins: Knight- 78

Attendance: 156

Referee: Ben Rayner

Half-time: Macclesfield RUFC 12- Leicester Lions 13

Star man: James Morgan for Leicester Lions and Lewis Winterbottom for Macclesfield

Macclesfield: 1. Berry 2. Moss 3. Robinson 4. Jones 5. Marwick 6. Palmer 7. Parfitt 8. F.Barker 9. Townsend 10. L.Barker (Capt) 11. Hall 12. Davenport 13. Winterbottom 14. Mayor 15. Reed and replacements 16. Nyemba 17. Burden 18. Lacey 19. Broster 20. Parry


Macclesfield 13 – 22 Huddersfield

Macclesfield would have expected to have come to Brewery Lane in Huddersfield and swept aside last years’ title winning promotees and unfortunately that may well be the accusation levelled against them from some corners.

The home side, and crowd, enjoyed the majority of possession in the first period with Macclesfield not escaping their own half for 20 odd minutes, surviving multiple Red Zone attacking entries by Huddersfield and the visitors’ scramble defence was very positive. At times tempers flared and the Cheshire side had to put up with some ugly tactics at the break down, with their hosts’ use of their feet – the Huddersfield Loose Head likely to find himself in hot water later in the week after a stamp on Billy Robinson.

Elliot Knight came close to breaking the deadlock following a decisive break by flanker Lewis Bradley and some neat passing exchanges but the Macclesfield defence held firm.

It was very much against the run of play when full back Charlie Reed, making his first start after he burst on to the scene in the latter stages of the win over Blaydon last week, slotted a 40m penalty to take the lead 3-0 in the 25th minute.

The Yorkshire outfit might have been kicking themselves after all their time in the Macc ’22, only to find themselves behind but managed to get over the line with their next attempt after some unforced errors by the Blues’ pegged themselves back. Richard Piper the scorer on 32 minutes in their 5th entry to the Blues ’22.

The Blues had had little ball and even less territory to that point with their hosts edging the kicking game, but the last 8 minutes of the half belonged to Macc, who managed to string a few phases together, as the momentum and penalty count began to tilit their way. A 5m maul was foiled as Franky Barker appeared to have the ball knocked out of hand by one of his own players and when Huddersfield did get their hands on the pill all they could do was clear their lines allowing the exciting prospect that is Charlie Reed a chance to run it back, but even he could not make an impression and the lads learnt the same lesson as Huddersfield did in the first 20 minutes – there are no points for territory and possession. Half time 5-3.

The Blues came out from the break appearing to be reinvigorated, dominating the early stages and making the extra man tell, as centre Tom Owen had been binned before half time. Another 5m maul was foiled before an champagne rugby style 8 phase attack saw the Priory Park club take the lead again. Reed and Hall combining on the kick return from their own half to get the lads moving and it was Hall who popped up on the end of the move as the Blues showed good patience to strike. Reed added another 3 with the visitors’ next visit to the opposition ’22 and the men in Black and Grey appeared to be elevating up through the gears.

If you followed Macclesfield’s run to the title the last time they were in National 2 then you would remember multiple cases of the champions that year getting in front and pulling away, so perhaps too many of the players were relying on history to repeat itself.

However, that proved not to be the case. Huddersfield composed themselves, re-captured their first half form and finished the match the stronger. Coach Gaz Lewis had introduced some personnel changes to bite back immediately on 55 minutes, through Lewis Bradley and kicker, no. 8 West, landed the touch line conversion cutting the deficit was cut to a single point (13-12).

Huddersfield dominated the scrum in the final quarter and when Macclesfield were penalised for a scrummage offence on 70 minutes West’s kick from 35 yards out restored their lead 15-12. Try as they might The Blues struggled to string many phases together; secure any significant territory through their kicking game and seemed incapable of making the kind of breaks they had against Blaydon last week perhaps missing their majestic talisman Lewis Barker, who was running the water today while nursing an injury. A final try by Nick Sharpe wrapped up the win after being out-muscled in a succession of scrummages down their left wing made the result safe.

It’s a disappointing result in a game Macclesfield would have been hoping to collect maximum points from. The injury table is pretty full currently, especially in the props which has meant Billy Robinson and Brendan Berry were forced to play 80 minutes each for a second week running and Captain Ryan Parkinson would be a welcome sight in the squad with the forwards looking a little out muscled this week. Leicester Lions are the visitors to Prioriy Lane next week, The Blues will have to be better.

Coaches’ Reaction – Giles Heagerty (Macclesfield Blues’ Director of Rugby):

“I think you have probably got to give Huddersfield their just desserts, they had a game plan, and I think they executed that fairly well. When you spend the best part of 30 minutes in the first half defending then somebody is doing something right, somewhere, and certainly the back end of the second half we really went off the reservation of what we were trying to do and that really put us under some duress that we didn’t need. Was it a poor performance? I think certainly in areas of the game we were decidedly second best but we have to give credit to Huddersfield.”

 


Macclesfield 41 – 15 Blaydon

Both these teams came down from national One last season and appear to be having differing fortunes so far. Our visitors had a tough encounter with a resurgent Tynedale and our beloved Blues were cruelly denied a last gasp win by the referee for a forward pass, but in reality the game should have been won long before then.

Blaydon are without a win this season and win found themselves 20-3 down at half time despite having had plenty of the ball, the Blues repelling all advances while at the other end Chris Townsend took an intuitive line based on his long experience to score latch onto Tom Davenport’s offload after a series of powerful gainline carries by the home forwards, to score under the posts. The team’s number 10’s traded penalties before Lewis Barker added a second and after another fruitless visit to the Macclesfield 22, Blaydon were cut open in midfield on the kick return by Dan Lomax (released by Franky Barker) resulting in Lewis Barker stepping round the statuesque defender to score under the posts, before adding the extras himself.

Blaydon brought a third strong spell to the Cheshire side’s red zone just before halftime but the Blues were in enthusiastic mood for defending.

The Blues would have hoped to have added more points straight after the break kicking to the corner from their first penalty, but the visitors were having none of it and managed to come out of a 5 minute spell in their own 22 to score at the other end on 51 minutes through Bell (20-10) off a smart lineout move in the 5m channel. Director of Rugby Giles Heagerty looked concerned about the decision to go for the corner back up in the North Easterner’s ’22 and thus it proved justified as what could have been a 20 point game at 23-3 was looking liking a more dicey affair at 20-10 and had to weather a storm from a rejuvenated Blaydon who suddenly had their tails up. Error compounded error as the home fans saw their side waste another attacking opportunity at the Blaydon end, perhaps youthful exhuberance made the boys anxious to chase the bonus point. A break down the middle of the pitch saw Macclesfield camped on their own line for almost ten minutes with the loss of Franky Barker to the sin bin not helping although no points were scored. 

Time and again the home side appeared to waste possession and attacking field position, until in the 72nd minute the most creative player on the park Lewis Barker rounded his opposite number after his forwards had beaten up the lads from Northumbria for 24 phases, making it 25-10. The last 10 minutes were a rout with 3 more tries being run in helped by the injection of pace of Charlie Reed who was little short of electric and provided a decisive kicking game from deep that had been lacking. The introduction of Rhodri Mayor also added to the composure shown towards the end as the visitors tired. Barker broke again helped by his variety of options running off him and showed lightening pace to finish again, while he certainly had hic kicking boots with him, converting all his kicks for the day tallying up 31 points for the day.

Charlie Reed created the last try, dropping a shoulder to sithe through the advancing defensive line and combining with substitute hooker Nico Nyemba who gave Tom Burden the simplest of finishes to grab his first try for the first team. The Israeli international impressed with the seconds last season and has made a seamless transition into the squad.

Job done and another bonus point achieved and with the hosts under strength surely this is just the beginning for the Priory Park side this season. It loos like being a very open and competitive league with Sale FC already losing to Sedgley and Hinkley winning all their matches.

Max Smith and Tom Davenport’s partnership in midfield continues to mature and Brendan Berry’s move to Loose Head Prop looks to be going well but Giles Heagerty will hope to get the likes of Tom Mantell, Ryan Parkinson and Lewis WInterbottom back from the injury table as soon as possible.

SCORERS

Macclesfield

Tries: Townsend (10), L. Barker (34, 72, 75), Burden (75)

Pens: Barker (19, 23)

Cons: Barker (11, 35, 73, 76, 78)

Drop goals: 

Blaydon

Tries: Bell (51), Appleton (79)

Pens: Whyman (13)

Cons: Whyman (52)

Drop goals: 

Macclesfield (15-9, 1-8): Lomax, Broster, Smith, Davenport, Hall, L. Barker, Townsend and Berry Moss, Robinson, Jones, Marwick, Palmer, Parfitt and F. Barker.

Replacements: Nyemba, Burden, Thorp, Mayor, Reed.

Blaydon: Bailey, Marshall, Cooney, Small, Appleton, Whyman, Miller and Beckwith, Thompson, Allison, Charlton, Little, Borthwick, Lenderyou, Laughlin

Replacements: Dodds, Bell, Tindle-Hames, Reed, Foreman

Referee: Jonathan Cook

Half-time: Macclesfield 20 – 3 Braydon

Star man: Lewis Barker

Attendance: 281


Macclesfield 41 – 15 Wharfedale

Macclesfield 41 – 15 Wharfedale

Macclesfield returned to National 2 with a resounding win against Wharfedale, but had to whether a first half storm from the lads in green who took the lead in the 5th minute though prop Asejevs and for spells they looked strong, shifting the ball wide with confidence and the Blues looking narrow and slightly unsure in their line speed at times. Early poor discipline and inaccuracy meant the home side defended for long periods. While Wharfedale were not exactly banging the door down, they did look the more likely. Until the hosts finally broke out of 1st gear in the 18th minute when veteran lock Dave Marwick went over. From there it was a very ‘bitty’ affair, both sides spurning their territorial advantages before Macc found a foothold and went ahead when the sublime Lewis Barker converted his own try after good ’22 pressure just before half time.


Macclesfield 19 – 36 Caldy

Cheshire Cup Semi Final
Priory Park, Macclesfield

By Matt Coleridge

Priory Park played host to the first competitive game of the 2017-18 season for the Cheshire Cup holders and National 2 North winners Caldy, and the predecessors of each of those titles, Macclesfield. Caldy fielded a near full strength side as they looked to build some momentum going into what will be a highly competitive National One campaign, while the Blues were without a number of high profile names yet put out a side full of enthusiastic young blood mixed with established faces.