Priory Lane in Macclesfield turned out to be a great setting for a great day, as the Blues hosted a round robin tournament, inviting 2 other top North West sides in the form of Caldy and Sedgley Park, while also being accompanied by touring side Redingensians from Reading.
Big crowds enjoyed 6 games of half an hour each under glorious sunshine on Saturday 12th August with tries flying in left, right and centre. Caldy were looking to get a good hit out ahead of their step up to National One, while Sedgley Park are in the early days of new Head Coach Matt Bebbingtons’ reign.
Redingensians enjoyed their visit to the Macclesfield area last year, when the two sides met in a pre season hit out, and were keen be involved again. It was an excellent chance to break in a few youngsters and get a look at the new signings for all the sides.
In terms of the Blues, fans were treated to some exciting ball in hand rugby, with an opening win against the Rams despite going behind to a chip and chase try by the travelling side. Lewis Barker created a break for Lewis Winterbottom who was hauled down just short, Tom Morton went close before Ryan Parkinson got the simple touch down in the corner. Barker became the finisher after a break from Davenport, the veteran centre who returned from Sale FC this summer. Matt Thorp got the third after a great team attack.
The Blues rotated players and took the field with the returning Josh Redfern, fresh off the plane from Australia where he honed his skills, against an energetic and physical Caldy side who enjoyed the bulk of possession and edged the game with 2 scores to one. Macclesfield’s try being a moment of genius as Morton and King combined from a quick tap chip and chase.
It was great to see a blend of youth, brought through the ranks of the Cheshire system such as back row Joe Palmer, and new arrivals prop Tom Poole and Joe Dearnaley previously of Glossop. The backs in particular seemed to click very well, the addition of ex-Sale Sharks back Tom Morton showing it has exciting possibilities when combined with Barker’s creative spark, Winterbottom’s guile, Davenport’s muscle and the pace out wide.
The final match was a win against the new look Sedgley side who also struck first against the hosts but good pressure from the Blues defence forced the Tigers into a number of cheap turnovers in their own half leading to tries, but the forwards will be delighted with their powerful driving maul to end a good run out.
Its too soon to get giddy but it was an excellent first hit out of the new season and the fans, players and coaching staff should be encouraged.
Matt Bebbington (Sedgley Park): “The management and players at Sedgley Park would like to thank Macclesfield for their hospitality on Saturday in what proved to be a very useful exercise to assess how pre-season training has gone for us so far. By playing three games against one National 1 and two National 2 sides gave us a stern test before the season begins in full on September 2nd and highlighted current team strengths and areas for improvement.”
Simon Verbickas (Caldy): “Great day at Macclesfield with the opportunity over 3 games against quality opponents to give all our players available a run out.
Hopefully this will be a yearly pre season fixture as gives coaches something to plan for on an annual basis.”
Seb Reynolds (Redingensians): “It was great to see our friends at Macclesfield for the 2nd year running. We find the tournament structure great preparation for this period of pre season. The games were fast paced, highly skilled and played in the right spirit. I would like to wish all the teams involved the very best with the coming season and a big thanks to Giles and his team at Macc for organising a great day.”
Keep an eye on The Blues’ social media platforms as we will be getting Head Coach Giles Heagerty and Captain Ryan Parkinson’s reaction to the weekend and look forward to the full friendly with Derby at home on Saturday.