The Blues pulled through their toughest test yet to win 14 – 15 in a tense game that went down to the wire at Hare Lane.
The opening exchanges were cagey, then six minutes in Chester scrum half Carwyn Lloyd-Williams intercepted a pass at the tail of a Macclesfield scrum, he broke free and put in Elfyn Davies to give the hosts the lead. The Blues covering defenders seemed to be protesting the score, suggesting it was held up, but the try was awarded.
In the minutes that followed, the Blues seized the initiative and took the game to their hosts in a ferocious manner. Their endeavor paid off when Frankie Barker crossed in the corner after some patient build up play. The scores were 7 – 5 after the opening quarter.
The game was largely played between the 22’s and it was an impressive battle of attrition between both packs. Macclesfield were finishing the half strongly, but to their credit, the Chester defence stood firm.
Then on the stroke of half time second row Dean Williams was yellow carded and Chester took advantage.
In the last play before oranges, the hosts stormed up the field with quick ball and strong running. Eventually the ball was shipped out to Will Nelson who stepped his way through to give the hosts a 14 – 5 lead at half time.
The Blues started the second half strongly, still with a man down they pushed to get back within touching distance of Chester. After almost an hours worth of play, Matt O’Regan ran a good support line to take the ball off Elliot Brierley who had sliced open the hosts’ defence. O’Regan ran in the five-pointer and it was going to be tense in the final quarter, 14 – 12.
The nerves all around the ground were evident on the field and both sets of players were edgey, neither wanted to make the crucial mistake, but it came.
With 72 minutes on the clock, the home team were penalised at the breakdown 30 metres out from their own line and the Blues had the opportunity to put themselves ahead. Captain Tom Eaton stepped up and calmly slotted the 3-pointer.
Ed Stobart picked up Macclesfield’s second yellow card of the game with minutes remaining to really test the Blues’ resolve.
The hosts then managed to get themselves a penalty right on the touchline and chose to kick at the posts with no time left on the clock. Rhys Hayes was the man who stepped up and his attempt drifted wide, Macc ran out 14 – 15 winners in an incredible close game.
Today also proved to be a difficult day for league leaders Stourbridge, who scraped past bottom of the league Sheffield 14 – 17, like the Blues they also failed to get the bonus point.
This means that six games in to the season Macclesfield and Stourbridge have gone punch for punch and remain locked at the top of National Two North.