Macclesfield 22 – 19 Loughborough

Macclesfield came from behind twice to ensure a valuable 22-19 away win against Loughborough Students.

After surviving a tense final ten minutes to deny the Students a late comeback, the Blues were able to set the record straight after losing at home back in October.

The visitors took hold of possession from the kick-off, however when the ball turned over high up the field, Loughborough countered with pace.

Stuart Hall’s blistering run through the centre was cut short as Josh Fowles caught up with the fly-half and a spectacular diving tackle brought him to the ground.

Despite the tackle, the Students were able to capitalise on the counter and the ball was switched out wide to Joe Burton on the left to score after five minutes, the conversion was off-target to give the home side an early 5-0 lead.

Macclesfield went on the offensive once again; Ryan Parkinson and Matt O’Regan looked sharp going forward as the Blues were able to put pressure on the young defence.

Halfway through the first half the Students were able to take back control of the ball, and there was a period of ten minutes where they had the Blues penned back near their goal line.

Loughborough even managed to cross the line twice, however the referee blew up penalty after penalty to restart the scrum, until finally the Blues were able to kick clear and relieve the pressure.

With just over five minutes left in the first half, Dave Marwick was able to score the Blues first try after several chances high up the field, Captain Tom Eaton converted to go 7-5 up.

Loughborough’s second row James Freeman then saw yellow for a technical foul, allowing the Blues to go forward with more space as half-time approached.

Just before the whistle went, Eaton was on-target once again with a penalty kick to extend the lead to 10-5.

Early into the second half Stuart Hall missed his penalty attempt, and as the Blues took back possession Matt O’Regan was able to score down the left after good work by winger Josh Fowles.

After receiving the ball from Fowles, O’Regan kicked the ball forward into space, caught it as it bounced up and crossed the line to cap off a well-worked try. The conversion went wide to bring the score to 15-5.

Hall was able to make up for his earlier miss by scoring a converted try through the goal posts after a pass from winger Craig Dowsett.

Full-back Iain Meads was then able to take the Students back into the lead, as he crossed the line down the right wing after the Blues were outnumbered in defence. Hall converted to give Loughborough a 19-15 advantage.

With just over ten minutes left, Matt O’Regan capped off a man-of-the-match performance by working well with full-back Matt King to score his second try. Eaton converted to creep the Blues back into the lead.

Macclesfield then had to defend desperately for the remainder of the match, Tom Mantell, Dean Williams and Matt Owen in particular made impressive tackles to stop the Students from a repeat of the late comeback in the reverse fixture.

Relief was felt by all Macclesfield players and fans as the referee blew for full-time, as the Blues picked up their second win in a row, and their third of 2013.

“Seeing the elation on the lads faces makes up for the days when you look at their faces and they’re covered with disappointment,” said Director of Rugby and Head Coach Geoff Wappett.

“It was tense, exciting, and when we did go behind we retained our composure, got ourselves back into the game so all of those are big plusses really.

“That was a game that highlighted our set piece play, I thought our scrummage and lineout stood up very well and put them under quite bit of pressure.

“We’d had a good weeks work and it culminated in a really effective Saturday afternoon, it’s hard to pick anybody out because everyone performed exceptionally well.

“We scored some good tries and made some good decisions about how to use the ball, because we drove the ball a lot with our forwards their defence became a bit tighter and left space outside.

“I thought their numbers 8, 9 and 10 were some of the best players on the field, yet our teamwork and whole attitude to the game ensured us our victory.

“I thought the lads really stepped up to the mark, O’Regan had a great game in the second half, Matt King was very accomplished last week and did some very good things this week.

“Matt Owen did well to step in at number 8 for Frankie Barker, Tom Mantell into the second row worked very well as well.

“There’s definitely an opportunity for a run here, Cambridge have produced some good results recently, they only lost 9-7 to Richmond last week and they’ve won at Fylde this weekend.

I’m glad they’ve done well because it means there won’t be any undercurrent of casualness, we will have to be at our best to get a result.”

Next week the Blues travel down to take on bottom of the league side Cambridge for a 2.00pm KO, for updates throughout the match follow our Twitter page here: https://twitter.com/MaccRUFC

15 – Matt King, 14 – Josh Fowles, 13 – Elliot Brierley, 12 – Matt O’Regan, 11 – Peter Hardwick, 10 – Tom Eaton, 9 – Matt Rhodes, 1 – Gavin Woods, 2 – Sam Moss, 3 – Ricki Stout, 4 – Tom Mantell, 5 – Dean Williams, 6 – Dave Marwick, 7 – Ryan Parkinson, 8 – Matt Owen,  16 – Dave Blackwell, 17 – Martin Kent, 18 – Mike Finnemore, 19 – Jonathan Kenny, 20 – George Baxter


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