Leicester Lions came to Macclesfield on the back of 4 straight defeats, the most recent at home to Tynedale last week when they were beaten with a try in the last play of the game so were hoping for better luck on their trip to Cheshire and that’s what they found.
Macclesfield, who were on the end of a surprising loss to Huddersfield last weekend, got off to a great start applying territorial pressure right from the off leading to Lion’s talisman 10, Jonathan Boden, being forced into a cross kick which found Macclesfield’s welsh wizard winger Rhodri Mayor who ran it back from 23 metres unopposed after ten minutes. Blues were in the driving seat after 10 minutes.
Any sluggishness Leicester may have had from the trip was soon dusted off though, and a long spell in the home side’s ’22 culminated in Winger Devon Constant latching on to a nicely placed grubber kick from full back Morgan to round off a 15 phase build up on 18 minutes.
The visitors returned to the hosts’ ’22 shortly after and home try scorer Mayor turned villain as he was sin-binned for an intentional knock on but its fair to say that the Welshman was clearly trying to catch a ball that would have put him under the posts if he had held on. After another patient spell of pressure, prop Liam Hills put the visitors in the lead (5-10 on the half hour).
Macclesfield showed their resilience as veteran lock David Marwick crossed, after patient phase building rugby had allowed them into the midlands’ sides’ ’22 and the forwards powered The Blues back in front.
Ill discipline allowed that lead to slip A late penalty to Leicester put the away side ahead 13-12 before the break, with Boden adding 3 off the tee before the big turning point in the match. Blues’ Sam Moss, playing his 252nd match for the club, was sent off for a head butt after a number of feisty exchanges between the two teams with a lot more going on at some rucks than rucking from observations and post match discussion. The footage was inconclusive so the assistant referee’s statement is likely to be the key evidence at his hearing, too bad he wasn’t as alert to a number of forward passes, knock on’s and cheap shots that went on through the game. 13-12 to the visiting side at half time and Macclesfield down to 14 men.
The conditions meant that the second half really didn’t make good viewing for the neutral, with the majority of the play inbetween the ‘22’s as both sides wrestled for control of the game and to get the territorial upper hand.
Another major incident in the match occurred on 43 minutes when the burley winger Constant forearmed and ultimately elbowed the advancing Chris Jones after catching a high ball, right under the aforementioned assistant referee’s nose, but appeared not to warrant action, not even stopping the game for the seemingly unconscious Jones. It is a shame though, as Constant has been one of the most highly rated wingers in National 2 North for years and left a sour taste. There were also some exchanges between the Lion’s players and sections of the crowd as a result. A nasty spell ensued with the Lions’ hooker Taylor and tight head prop Hills among those who appeared to have lost control, not to mention the referee Ben Rayner, and there were bad tempered incidents going on with worrying frequency.
When the feistiness settled, and the rugby resumed, the visiting side managed to get on top territorially and applied the pressure in increasing grim conditions before Blues’ flanker Joe Palmer sin- binned for holding on on his own try line and from the resulting scrum, Morgan went over in the corner and with Boden adding the extra 2 points The Blues needed something to get back within bonus point range.
The crowd took great delight when Lions’ lock Alexander Knight was sin-binned for blocking Lewis Barker who was taken out chasing his own chip, and Charlie Reed nudged the Blues into the Leicester ’22 for only the first time in the half but lost the resulting lineout. A series of mistakes in the difficult conditions lead to the home side being stuck in their own 22 and gave up a 13th penalty of the match which the men in purple drove over for their bonus point.
In truth, Leicester were deserved winners, with Macclesfield possibly out fought…literally at times, but Boden managed the game well and Leicester did not make the same mistakes in their own half that the home side did to welcome pressure. Perhaps Macclesfield could have kicked less ball but they tried to adapt to the conditions. It’s a slightly sticky spell for the Blues’ at the moment with 2 losses in 2 weeks to 2 teams who were in the bottom half, but the injury list is long and a number of youngsters have been blooded and special mention should be made to Tom Burden, our Israeli international, who came on and added great physicality and energy again, Sam Parry, our Spanish international who gave some pacey impetus and most of all Lewis Winterbottom at 13 who showed good defensive leadership. Flanker Liam Parfitt worked tirelessly as did Prop Brendan Berry and Lewis Barker could not really have tried anything else to get the result for his team.
We have a long way to go so lets back the Blues.
Macclesfield RUFC 12-25 Leicester Lions
Tries: Mayor, 10, Marwick, 36
Conversions: Baker, 36
Sin Bins: Mayor, 26 and Palmer 72
Red Cards: Moss, 40
Tries: Constant, 18, Hills, 29, Morgan, 74, Taylor, 79
Conversions: Boden, 79
Penalties: Boden, 39,
Sin Bins: Knight- 78
Referee: Ben Rayner
Half-time: Macclesfield RUFC 12- Leicester Lions 13
Star man: James Morgan for Leicester Lions and Lewis Winterbottom for Macclesfield
Macclesfield: 1. Berry 2. Moss 3. Robinson 4. Jones 5. Marwick 6. Palmer 7. Parfitt 8. F.Barker 9. Townsend 10. L.Barker (Capt) 11. Hall 12. Davenport 13. Winterbottom 14. Mayor 15. Reed and replacements 16. Nyemba 17. Burden 18. Lacey 19. Broster 20. Parry