Old Albanians 32 – 6 Macclesfield

The Blues struggled to convert their chances in the wet conditions against Old Albanians on Saturday, who scored five tries to win 32-6.

With the only points coming from Captain Tom Eaton’s two first-half penalties, Director of Rugby and Head Coach Geoff Wappett has urged his side to develop more of a ‘cutting edge’.

“We have decent approach work but when it comes to getting that last five yards we seem to lack a bit of confidence and when the opposition show stern resistance that’s enough to turn us away.”

It was the Blues first ever trip down to the recently promoted side, who have been in great form in the league, winning their last five out of six matches.

However after five minutes of play, Macclesfield were looking superior in set pieces and defended well whenever Old Albanians were on the ball.

The home side began to show their class, using experienced backs like Richard Gregg and James Spiers to threaten down the wings.

Dave Marwick and Martin Kent impressed with their tackling in the first half, the latter making a big tackle on centre Christoff Lombaard to put a stop to a promising attack.

At ten minutes, Old Albanians took control of a driving maul to slowly move up the pitch, the ball was then switched out left for the Blues defence to clean up.

Macclesfield took the lead several minutes later, Eaton scoring a penalty kick after the Albanians were punished for a bad tackle 20 yards from the goal-line.

21 minutes into the first half, Gregg scored the Albanian’s first try, brushing off a weak tackle to jog over the line down the right wing.

Gregg then stepped up to take the conversion, the kick sailing wide to give the home side a 5-3 advantage.

After the restart, a lineout provided the Blues with their best display of attacking rugby; the ball being switched from Matt Rhodes to Elliot Brierley in the centre.

Keeping up the fast momentum, the ball then was passed to Mike Finnemore who was tackled before he could offload the ball.

Old Albanians took back control of the ball, a tackle by Edd Stobart on Captain James Shanahan, that left the player needing a physio’s assistance, helped put a stop to the attack.

Richard Gregg added another three points to the score-board, his penalty kick on-target with five minutes to go before half-time.

It was then Eaton’s turn to try his luck from 35 yards out, making the target to go 8-6.

The Albanians were not content to enter the break with the score so close, and Arran McDougall was able to score just before the half-time whistle went.

While the skies were clear in the first half, as the sun went down the heavens opened and the player’s had to deal with much wetter conditions in the second half.

This didn’t stop Albanian’s Matt Chambers, who scored three minutes after the restart. Gregg was off-target once again much to the home crowd’s dismay.

Much like last week, discipline became an issue and Martin Kent was sin-binned for an offence in a scrum.

Alan Marsh also saw yellow later in the half in what Geoff Wappett described as being a “harsh decision”.

Nonetheless, the Blues were one man down for most of the second half, and Old Albanians were able to hold possession for long periods.

Daish was then able to score a converted try after 55 minutes to increase the lead to 25-6 and take the bonus point.

The side did well to keep Old Albanians from turning the match into a cricket score-line as the home side probed the Macclesfield defence.

Eaton showed good composure to clear the ball into touch on several occasions after a few opportunities for the Albanians came close in the final 15 minutes.

However, Lawrence Rayner was able to score their fifth and final try at the full-time whistle, the conversion on target as the A’s claimed all five points.

Geoff Wappett said after the match: “It was disappointing, we started off reasonably well and we got amongst the opposition.

“But when they made mistakes we didn’t follow them up and cash in on it. We did the hard work, and some of our approaches were quite tidy but we weren’t incisive enough to come up with the score.

“The tables turned slightly on us when we had two yellow cards in the second half. I thought the one on Alan Marsh was a bit stern. You almost didn’t see it, it was so innocuous.

 “Martin Kent was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. We are very conscious of the discipline factor, although sometimes it’s indicative of a team under pressure.

“The weather did play a big part, we were playing right into the wind and you couldn’t kick to relieve pressure.

“Hopefully next week Tom Davenport will be back in the midfield next week and soon Dean Williams and Ryan Parkinson will start to make a contribution, hopefully even Chris Jones.

“The lads are going to need to pick themselves up and take on Sedgley Park, It’s a must-win game.

“Both Loughborough and Sedgley won on Saturday, we’re conscious of the pressure it’s putting on and it’s not a pleasant situation to be in but we have to face it full on.”

Next week marks the final game of 2012 for Macclesfield, who take on Sedgley Park at home for a 3.00pm kick-off. If you can’t make it down to Priory Park follow the Twitter updates here: https://twitter.com/MaccRUFC


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