Macclesfield began life in National 2 North with a 30 – 19 bonus-point win over Darlington Mowden Park at Priory Park.
The home side controlled the opening stages, starving Darlington of both possession and field position. After being camped inside the opposition 22 for 10 minutes, the Blues made their pressure tell when big Billy Robinson crashed over following some good work from debutant Mike Barlow and captain Tom Eaton.
Barlow added a penalty to extend the hosts lead before Eaton again turned provider. The Darlington defence seemed afraid to tackle him as he hit the gap and offloaded to send Tom Davenport under the sticks.
The game was then stopped when Darlington fly half Tom Hodgson suffered a serious injury. It took 20 minutes for the player to be treated and although he looked very shook up, he walked off the pitch and in to the dressing room.
When play resumed Macclesfield were stunned when it was the visitors who seized the initiative. Almost immediately the ball was shipped wide to winger Tom Kill who dodged a few tackles before going over in the corner, the conversion from Gavin Painter cut the Blues lead to 8.
On the half hour mark Macclesfield extended their lead through Robinson’s second five-pointer. He powered over from close range, carrying a handful of defenders with him.
5 minutes before half time Darlington’s Pierce Phillips picked up a yellow card after persistent offending at the breakdown and gave the Blues a man advantage.
Going in at the break Macclesfield were in the ascendency, the scrum was dominant and the lineout was functioning well, the backs had a solid platform and that is the key to winning any rugby match. The scores at halftime were 22 – 7.
The second half started much like the first half, with Macclesfield dominating. Frankie Barker extended the hosts lead 10 minutes in to the second half when he picked up from the base of a scrum just five metres out and powered down the blindside to wrap up the bonus point. Then Darlington made it interesting for the final quarter by scoring a quick brace of tries from Guy Van Den Dries and Kill for his second, this brought the visitors to within 8 points for a second time and there were a few nervy faces around Priory Park going into the closing stages.
After all the excitement of the first half, the final tem minutes fizzled out, both teams defended well and there wasn’t much opportunity to have a go at the opposition. However, with ten minutes to go Barlow added a final three points to send Macclesfield out of sight and ensure the victory.
This was a good five-point win for the Blues and it propels them right to the top of the league. Next week they will be travelling to Sheffield Tigers who lost 16 – 3 to Preston Grasshoppers on Saturday.