Birmingham and Solihull 19 – 31 Macclesfield

Macclesfield battled to a hard-fought victory in their final pre-season friendly against Birmingham & Solihull.

The Blues struggled to make an impact in the first half, trailing 14-12 to the Bees, however turned the tide by winning 19-31.

Blues Director of Rugby and Head Coach Geoff Wappett was pleased with the comeback, but thought there was more to come from the squad; “It was an indifferent performance.

“These pre-season games are about learning things, and I learnt a lot today.

“We simply gave three tries away out of simple casualness and it was lacking in intensity.

“For about ten minutes in the first half we played some really good rugby, and to be fair to Birmingham they defended really well, then we eased off again; I spoke to them at half time and it came back again.

“So the players know there’s a lot to do because we’re playing in front of our own fans next week and we need to show a good performance.”

The match kicked off with a strong start from Macclesfield, holding the possession and probing the Birmingham defence.

An intercepted pass was all it took for the home side to make their mark on the match, with a quick counter up the pitch resulting in a try for Birmingham & Solihull’s Dan Barrett.

An easy conversion meant the score was 7-0 after ten minutes of play.

The first quarter played out with possession switching hands regularly, with no real chances being capitalised on.

A strong push from the Blues at the Birmingham end resulted in a try from Dave Marwick, who touched the post after several rucks.

Tom Eaton’s kick equalised the match, however the accomplishment was short-lived as the Bee’s Barrett scored his second try, after another fumbled ball was intercepted, making it 12-7.

Macclesfield were back on the offensive, with Davenport and Mantell doing well to push the home side back.

The hard work paid off, after Jack Moorhouse dodged two players after being passed the ball out on the left wing to score his only try of the match.

Tom Eaton scored his second conversion to push the Blues back into the lead, taking the score to 12-14 at half-time.

Birmingham’s Dan Barrett scored his hat-trick of tries soon after the second half went underway, the conversion pushing the Bee’s to a 19-14 lead.

Stobart went on a promising run up the wing with only one defender in his way, but was tackled at the last minute.

With 20 minutes remaining the Blues were trailing by five points, and needed to respond to make it back into the game.

And respond is what they did. Tom Mantell scored a 65th minute try and break down the right wing. The kick narrowly missed the target to make it 19-19.

As play restarted Macclesfield quickly took back the possession, with Josh Fowles finding himself clean through. A desperate last-man tackle from the Bees was enough to stop the attack.

Youngster David Haigh scored a converted try after coming off the bench with five minutes to go, closely followed by a well-deserved try for winger Edd Stobart.

Blues captain Tom Eaton missed the last conversion, however can be pleased with a solid performance, adding a total of six points to the score-line.

After the final whistle Geoff Wappett was reflective of the pre-season campaign: “In pre-season we need to get rid of the things that aren’t very good, and be aware of them.

“Nearer the end of the game we improved, and they were looking a little bit tired, and that’s what rugby’s about.

“The work you do in the first 20 minutes will be rewarded in the last 20.

“All the sides that we’ll be playing this season will be pretty quick and fit; everybody will have done big pre-seasons.

“It was nice to see Matt Rhodes and Chris Townsend at scrum half, both of them had tidy starts to their Macclesfield careers, it helped to get them operational.

“Tom Cruse is also a class act; I am very impressed with everything I see with Tom.

“Dave Marwick is another one whose got a lot of ability and the more we all play together the more we’ll be able to integrate them into things and they’ll be even better.

“I am really looking forward to the start of the season, I was looking forward to today, and I can’t wait for us to get started.

“It’s actually a very difficult league and really competitive, which makes it all the worthwhile.”

The Blues now look forward to the first league game of the season, in what should be an exciting match at home against Blaydon on Saturday 1st September.

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