Macc 4ths began the return series of this season’s matches with the long away trip to Oswestry on Saturday determined to win after losing by the final kick of the game in the home fixture at Priory Park in September.
As is not unusual at 4th team level Macc faced a significantly stronger team than the one who had made the trip to us in September and for perhaps the first time this season faced a set of forwards who were a match for them in the set piece. It took Macc a time to get the journey out of their system and then with a little judicious rearrangement of the forward pack to get on terms with Oswestry. As Smithy had perceptively said before the match began, the Oswestry scrum half, somewhat confusingly wearing the number 10, was their playmaker and best player. It would be imperative that Macc kept him closely marked if they were to defuse the Oswestry attack. Oswestry scored first with a strong forward surge up the right. This was converted 7-0. Oswestry missed a penalty, but scored a further converted try to take the score to 14-0. By the end of the first quarter Macc were back to their usual aggressive forward style, with Streety and Elliot Lee regularly on the charge and Cheeky Walker giving a virtuoso exhibition of the back-row dark arts as Macc took the game to the opposition. From a break inside the Macc 22, Smithy broke free and looked concerned when he realised how far it was to the Oswestry tryline, although he was stopped short, Will Hawthorn took the ball on to score under the posts. Tony Amos added the extras. The match was finely balanced, and at half time Macc could see that it was there to win and turned round with renewed determination.
In the second half Macc looked the stronger and better side, and Tony Amos made effective use of long raking kicks deep into the Oswestry half that regularly gained ground as the Macc follow-up snuffed out any Oswestry counter. Macc opened the scoring in the second half when Smithy, having an excellent match, burst through several would-be tacklers to score with Amos adding the conversion. Oswestry scored a further unconverted try to take the score to 19-14, but Macc were dominating both the forward and back play as they mixed their tactics.
One of the Oswestry forwards was yellow carded for a spear tackle, and this gave Macc the added edge in the set piece. It was not long before Macc scored a fine try up the left touchline when Will Hawthorn dived into the corner despite strong resistance from the opposing players to score his second try of the afternoon. This went unconverted but levelled the scores at 19-19. This score clearly affected the opposition and much of the play afterwards was in the Oswestry half and 22. Skipper Walker had made a couple of changes in the backs, that saw the versatile Mike Keeling, who had been selected at Hooker, started at loosehead prop, followed by a short spell in the second row return to the field in his more accustomed position in the centre! But it was the other replacement Phil Adshead, who after fine work in the forwards who had won the ball again, and the ball was switched to the blindside wing who made it to touch down in the left corner. This try was unconverted, but took the score to 19-24.
With less than seven minutes to go, at a 22 drop-out Bos tackled the Oswestry scrum half, who following an Oscar winning and impressive double reverse somersault with pike caused the referee to give Bos a rest and award Oswestry a penalty. Although the kick moved play deep into the Macc half, despite pressing the attack, Oswestry could find no way through as the strong Macc defence held out. The match resulted in another win for Macc, who after a shaky start to the season are becoming a powerful team who have a good balance between the traditional strong forward pack and a good set of backs marshalled by vice-captain and fly-half Tony Amos.
Next week Macc play Crewe & Nantwich at home at Priory Park.