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Macclesfield 20 – 17 Wharfedale

Macclesfield battled to a narrow 20 – 17 win at Priory Park against Wharfedale after a converted penalty try in the last five minutes gave the home side a dramatic late winner.

Fly-half Tom Eaton contributed 10 points to the score-line as he failed to miss a single chance throughout the match.

Forwards Billy Robinson and Mike Finnemore both returned to the starting line-up after being out through injury, whilst Peter Hardwick impressed in his first start of the season to replace winger Josh Fowles.

Macclesfield took hold of possession from kick-off, passing the ball well and impressing from the kick-off as the likes of Tom Mantell and Edd Stobart were powerful driving forward.

Elliot Brierley had a good chance to run through the centre of the pitch, dodging several tackles as he found the gaps in Wharfedale’s defence.

However his storming run left him with little support, he struggled to offload the ball and Wharfedale regained possession.

After ten minutes Wharfedale had their first real chance of taking the lead, but centre Lloyd Davies was off-target from close range with the penalty and the match remained score-less.

The visitors took back and held possession for the next five minutes, and at the 15 minute mark Mike Finnemore saw yellow for a technical foul on number 8 Alastair Allan.

Minutes later James Gough was able to score Wharfedale’s first try down the left wing, Davies was off-target once again to give the Yorkshire side a 5-0 advantage.

As Finnemore returned to the field, Macclesfield did well to turn the momentum and earn a penalty high up the field for Captain Eaton to convert.

Minutes later Eaton scored his second penalty from nearly 40 yards out to edge the Blues into a 6-5 lead.

The Blues defended well  to hold Wharfedale to just one first-half try as they spent large periods with one man off the field, as Billy Robinson also saw yellow after 33 minutes.

Just before the half-time whistle Macclesfield flew further into the lead with a converted penalty try after a well-worked scrum forced the foul.

Coming out into the second half Wharfedale looked again to be the better side, and just three minutes later Daniel Solomi scored after a quick switch of field position.

The ball was passed out wide to Nicholas Taylor on the right wing, who offloaded the ball to Solomi; Davies scoring the conversion to bring the score to 13-12.

At 51 minutes Wharfedale scored again, this time coming from James Tyson, after the ball was kicked back out wide for Tyson to drive over the line.

Alan Marsh saw yellow as a result of the try, and the Blues kicked off more determined than ever to get back into the match.

The two sides struggled to convert their chances as the clock ticked down, the ball turning over every few minutes as the weather started to worsen.

With the full 80 minutes coming to an end, Macclesfield had a scrum high up the field result in another penalty try; Eaton converted once more to go 20-17.

Tempers frayed seconds before the full-time whistle went; substitute Joe Clowes on the receiving end of an infuriated Wharfedale forward’s aggression.

The referee ignored the riled up home crowd and kept his cards in his pockets, only to blow the whistle a minute later for the Blues to celebrate their fourth win of the season.

Head Coach and Director of Rugby Geoff Wappett was pleased with the late comeback: “I thought it was a great result.

“It wasn’t a classic match; it was a cold, wet and windy December afternoon, it was a day when you had to keep flogging away and there was always going to be a few mistakes.

“I was disappointed with the way we shaped just after half-time, but whilst we went behind during that period, we had the determination to stick at it and keep going.

“Considering we played half an hour of that game with one man short, we had three people binned and they had none; that was a big disadvantage.

“There’s going to be some tough old games like that, and that sort of character we’re going to need as much and more again.

“I think next week’s match could be a real tight tussle but we could go to Old Albanian and take four points. We have to travel with that sort of faith in ourselves.”

Tom Eaton spoke of the difficulty playing with one man short: “It was massively difficult and frustrating.

“It was fantastic that the scrum didn’t even creak, even when we were down to seven in the forward pack.

“It was good to get all my chances on target, I felt good before the game and hadn’t been able to practice my kicking this week because of the weather.

“It’s going to be tough next week, they’ve got some good players; a good back-line with a lot of experience and quality.

“It will be a challenge but we’ve got our set pieces right recently and with that we’ve got a chance against anybody in this league.”

Next week the Blues travel down to Old Albanian for a 3.00pm kick-off, to follow the updates throughout the match visit our Twitter page here: https://twitter.com/MaccRUFC.

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