The Lions got an early win under their belt in the group stage, with a convincing 5-3 win over Chester Saxons (including 2 7-tackle turnovers). Knutsford were the next team and psychologically they had a big advantage having proved they have very strong attacking in a recent home match. However a hugely improved defence saw them hold out and some great pace won them through (4-2) with 2 7-tackle turnovers.
The final group matches were definitely against stronger sides facing Caldy Greens (later Plate Runners Up) winning narrowly 3-2 and finally an undefeated Winnington Park. Both undefeated teams took their places and the match went to the break with one try each. The second half saw a determined Park go over, only for it to be disallowed by the referee in a controversial (but correct) forward pass. The restart gave Macclesfield the advantage and a strong push saw Macclesfield score and the clock ran out (2-1 win).
Whilst that drama played out the Blues were showing top performance on another pitch, playing some very attractive Rugby in the group stages scoring 21 tries and only conceding one. Beating a confident Altrincham Kersall side 6 – 0, Crew and Nantwich 4 – 0, Bowden 7 – 1 and a Sandbach side 4 – O.
However having scored so many tries we actually played huge parts of the game without the ball due to scoring quickly when we had possession through some well executed moves and shipping the ball before or during the contact with skilful off loads. Defence wins games and this is where the lads excelled which is why they dominated the Group stages with some excellent timed tackles which in itself created a lot of scoring chances.
The Knockout Stages
With both teams having topped their groups they were entered into the Cup competition. This had the obvious difficulty that we might meet on the field on the way to the final, and the draw confirmed we would meet in the Semi, subject of course to getting through the quarters.
The Lions were first up against Sandbach, known as a strong team however our boys were riding the wave full of confidence. It soon became apparent that, whilst our lads had done us proud they were facing a much stronger team and need to organise to ensure the win. The game was hard fought with some huge tackles on both sides. The break came 2-1 to Sandbach, and the Lions had to re-group fast to get through.
They both came out wary of each other and there was a spell of heavy tackling and the hard ground taking its toll. Sandbach eventually broke through in the last two minutes to score twice in quick succession. The final score being 4-1 to Sandbach, however that didn’t reflect the way the lads played with determination and grit.
Sandbach went on to face the Macclesfield Blues however our lads first had to overcome Wilmslow Wolves in the Quarter Finals, with a good amount of pace and having not lost a game in the Group stages. Our game plan was to play attractive Rugby looking to suck defence in and then move the ball quickly to the wings. The lads did this well and again with excellent defence witnessed a 4 tries to 1 victory and on to the Semi Finals!
It was the Blues opportunity to play a strong and undefeated Sandbach team that knocked out the Lions in the previous round. The Physicality stepped up a level and ended the first half with only one try scored by Macclesfield. After a quick drink and a word at half time the boys took the field for the second half which immediately resulted in a well worked try for Macclesfield to go two tries up.
A determined Sandbach team fought back well to score and bring the deficit back to 1 try. However the boys finished the game the stronger and could have scored a couple more tries but the final whistle blew ending the game 2 – 1.
Macclesfield Blues v Lymm Blacks in the final had two teams that have not lost a game all season (and previously tied in two festivals). A great start to the Blues saw a superb try before Lymm could make even one tackle. However this lead was short lived and Lymm moved the ball well to out flank a strong Macclesfield defence to bring the scores level.
The commitment from both teams was witnessed by a large crowd which is often unusual in these tournaments as so many of the teams go home when knocked out, however thanks to Chester’s hospitality and of course the weather meant many remained to watch this particular game. It’s not often you get rival clubs supporting a Macclesfield side!
The tackling was fierce, and due to the pressure Lymm put on the Macclesfield players allowed them to score to take the lead mid-way through the first half. However quick hands for the Blues created a scoring opportunity which was taken well, to level the scores at half time.
This provided the Blues with much optimism for the second half, and both teams’ defence tightened up. Chances for both teams were few and far between. Macc kept the ball well and it looked as if was going to be a draw (AGAIN!). Unfortunately in the last minute Lymm managed to move the ball quickly to an overlap which resulted in a diving try in the corner to win the game. Both teams played exceptionally well and Lymm were worthy champions.
In summary the Lions played superbly on the day, demonstrating true spirit and determination. They put into practice their skills they have developed this year and in a high pressure situation didn’t let themselves down. Winning 4 matches in succession and making the final 8 in Cheshire was a fantastic achievement for a team who have not played together much this season.
The Blues played with such intensity and skill way above their years, scoring 29 tries in 7 games and only conceding 5 tries.
It’s been a great season for the Macclesfield U9 having won three tournaments Stockport, Manchester, Whitchurch and runners up in the Cheshire Cup competition plus an undefeated if not tiresome but great fun first Rugby tour to Warwick and Worcester. All 42 lads have been a credit to the club and have progressed incredibly well in their first year of contact. We look forward to the summer break and raring to go as U10’s next season.