In a game which was dubbed a promotion decider, Macclesfield fought like heroes to secure four tries in a match they lost to secure promotion to National League One.
The Blues started strongly in this game and immediately stamped their authority within the forwards. This soon proved decisive as the Macc pack drove tight head prop Billy Robinson over the top of the home defence for the first score of the afternoon. Captain Tom Eaton converted.
The home side immediately fought back and the blistering pace of their backs caught the Blues on the back foot. Darlington came extremely close to the line but were stopped just short by a try saving tackle from full back Ashley Platt-Hughes, Macc hooker Sam Moss was sin binned in the aftermath.
From the resulting penalty Mowden Park put a string of phases together and their second row Chris Campbell was bundled over the line. Darlington fly half Tom Hodgson began a faultless kicking display with a simple conversion.
Darlington then began to get a foothold on the game and their impressive fly half gave a show and go to break the Macclesfield line and stroll in, he then converted his own try making it 14-7 after 25 minutes.
Darlington then went on to have a try disallowed for a forward pass, their wide expansive game was proving a real challenge for the Blues defence.
The game then turned on the stroke of half time when Darlington opened up a 14 point lead after a converted try. The Blues went in at the break knowing they needed to be much improved in the second half.
The Blues came out after half time with true grit in their spirits and had to defend for long periods, but on 56 minutes, stand in number 8 for the day, Cameron Neild was taken over the line by a trademark Blues catch and drive line out, and suddenly Macclesfield were back in this contest.
Darlington replied almost immediately after this score to re-open their 14 point lead, they went down the blind side from a scrum in the Macclesfield 22 meaning they had an important bonus point.
Macclesfield then had to respond to ensure that their promotion hopes were kept alive, and they immediately began to turn the screw and test the entire Darlington side. Macclesfield began to build pressure in the opposition 22 and the penalty count against Darlington began to rise.
Captain Tom Eaton took the opportunity from these penalties to get his side a line out which they could get over, in the end the persistence paid off. The Blues were over the line and needed just one more score to no reply to complete their rise to national one.
It was truly nail biting stuff at the Northern Echo Arena and the Blues were camped within the home 22 for at least 10 minutes. The penalty count continued to rise and in the end a Darlington player was sent to the sin bin for the remaining minutes.
The Blues were in the left hand corner in front of the travelling fans when Captain Tom Eaton got himself over the line to score the decisive try for Macclesfield and ensure their safe passage into National One. Hosts for the day Darlington earned themselves a play-off spot and were just pipped to the post by champions Macclesfield.
Being crowned champions will be seen as the perfect send off for Director of Rugby Geoff Wappett and Assistant coach Andy Northey in what was their last game for the club, both have been terrific servants to the club and have bought success. We wish them all the very best and would like to thank them for their efforts in helping to make Macclesfield Rugby Club successful.