Mathematically, it’s still possible for Macclesfield not to be crowned as champions of National Two North, but the title is all but sealed and English Rugby’s fourth tier has been conquered for the second time in three years by the boys from Priory Park.
The Blues were part of a spectacular encounter on Saturday when they travelled to Sedgley Park Tigers, the second placed team in the league and the only side to defeat Macc at home this season, and won. 33-34. A truly phenomenal performance, one Head Coach Giles Heagerty was very proud of:
“We knew Sedgley were going to come out of the traps but to be 12 points down after 10 minutes just shows the quality they have. We showed the quality we have to get back into the contest and go ahead, and although we rocked a little, we stayed ahead.”
Macclesfield spent large spells of Saturday under high pressure from Sedgley and defended extremely well in the second half, Heagerty felt the way his side fronted up, was truly the stuff of champions.
“Its always difficult when you spend spells without the ball, especially against sides with the quality that Sedgley possess. We just allowed them to come onto us, we were too passive and they had a good game plan that shortened us up, which gave them space to exploit. But in the second half we braced up.”
“Some of the tackles going in were phenomenal, Ryan Parkinson, Max Smith, and Harrison Lewis to name three who were really chucking themselves about. Charlie Venables, who was probably the smallest man on the pitch, put the biggest hit in.”
The Blues were faced with obstacles from the start, through unavailability Macclesfield were forced into some changes, and also lost captain Mike Finnemore early on. The Blues were without influential centre, Elliot Brierley, and winger Matt King who was away on International duty with Cyprus. This meant that leading scorer, and usual number 8, Ryan Parkinson was moved into the number 12 shirt, Heagerty was very impressed with his performance, and so he should be, out of position Parkinson notched a game winning brace which took him to 18 for the season.
“Ryan is always telling me he’s a back, and we know he’s got the skillset. It was a little bit enforced through injury and unavailability. He’s already done it once for us at Tynedale, and this time he got the start, and it certainly worked. I think it threw them off a little bit and although we didn’t have much possession, when Ryan did get the ball he caused some real damage. Those two tries he scored show the determination he has.”
Although Macclesfield did not officially secure the title, they only need a point to do so this weekend, Heagerty looks forward to having the pleasure of doing so at Priory Park.
“It would’ve been nice to secure it this weekend, but it was never going to be simple against second in the league, and Sedgley are a big game team. We’ve not got the best record at Park Lane either, so to get the win is fantastic. We told to boys at half time to forget winning the league, its about winning the league. By getting the five points, its firmly in our hands. It’ll be nice to do it at Priory Park next weekend.”
The Blues face Chester this weekend, Heagerty knows it will be another tough game but expects his player to step up.
“Chester haven’t had the best of second halves to the season, but they gave us a real game at their place. We say this all the time, every week we are somebody’s cup final. The game this weekend will have taken a lot out of the boys, emotionally and physically. But we’ve got to lift ourselves to another level again.”
A special mention must also go to those who travelled to support Macclesfield on Saturday, Heagerty even took to twitter to thank the those who were supporting The Blues.
“Huge thanks to the travelling @MaccRUFC supporters. Can’t underestimate the impact you have. #1pointneeded”