Macclesfield extend their run at the top of the league with a 25 – 3 win over Preston Grasshoppers at Priory Park on Saturday.
The Blues opened their account, after some early pressure, with a simple Tom Eaton penalty before Preston got into the game. The visitors brought a sturdy defence and a physicality to almost match the home side, something that has been a rarity this season.
Midway through the first half the visitors eventually broke. Preston hooker Phil Mills was red carded for a tip tackle on Mike Finnemore. From the resulting penalty the Blues opted for a scrum 20 metres from the line and pushed the 7-man scrum over, all Ryan Parkinson had to do was fall on it over the line.
The hosts created two good chances in the first half after breaks from Joe Murray and Mike Finnemore but failed to convert on both occasions.
On the stroke of halftime the visitors were back on the wrong side of the referee, John Ward was given ten minutes to cool off after kicking out at a Macclesfield player. The score favoured the league leaders 8 – 0 at half time.
Parkinson bagged his second try just minutes into the second half thanks to a dominant Blues pack. He was again at the tail when a driving maul charged 35 metres to the line, extending the hosts lead.
Then it was Macclesfield’s turn to go down to 14 men when Chris Jones was sin binned for an infringement at the breakdown in the shadow of his own posts.
The visitors got on the scoreboard with a penalty but that was quickly cancelled out by Jordan Brookes’ first try on his home debut for Macclesfield. The forwards again did most of the hard work before the replacement scrum half found a gap around the fringes and sniped from close range.
Ten minutes from time Preston were back down to 13 men when the referee lost patience with the front row after a number of reset scrums. He picked out prop Mohammed Mustafa and sent him for an early shower.
With the clock winding down it looked as if Macclesfield would have to settle for just the four league points. The Blues were camped in their opponents 22 and eventually Ed Stobart found space out wide and slid in at the corner to claim the bonus point, 25 – 3 the final score.
Results elsewhere in the league mean that the top of the table is the same as it was before the days play. The top three all won with bonus points so Macclesfield are still three clear at the top.