Macclesfield came into this after 5 defeats on the bounce and with South Leicester fresh off the back of a win over Tynedale on a sticky wet and windy Cheshire day this game was not one for the neutrals with plenty handling errors but not much in the way of points scoring in a gam where 70% of the game was played between the 2 ‘22’s.
The Blues started lively and Lewis Barker kicked an early 3 points 5 minutes in after both sides looked ok in their first couple of phases but failed to put anything more together. But after Director of Rugby Giles Heagerty had claimed that his team had failed to manage the game as well as their opponents Sale FC last week, they appeared to set out to right that wrong this week, with good positional play while maintaining what Heagerty praised last week, the strong defence, repelling South Leicester’s attack despite positive mauls.
Barker missed a second shot at goal after the visitors’ fly half Aley was yellow carded for an intentional knock on, a punishment that may even have surprised the home fans but no one was complaining. The Blues were unable to pick up any points during the sin bin but almost as soon as Aley returned the Blues turned defence into attack chasing down Charlie Ree’s long clearance kick and forcing a pen, which they put into the corner and converted on 21 minutes through the returning Ryan Parkinson who went over in trade mark style off the back of a powerful maul.
The Blues forwards really earned their corn today, making 57 metres through mauling and dominated the majority of the scrums, so special mention must go out to the front row of Sam Moss, rookie Loose head Brendan Berry and Billy Robinson who was making his 200th appearance for the club today. Even when penalised these front 3 may have been harshly dealt with given fan reaction.
South Leicester are no mugs and came back all guns blazing after going 10-0 down and but for a good recovery tackle from Charlie Reed, Collingham, who is clearly a very good player on todays performance along with their scrum half Shaw who kicked brilliantly, would surely have gone over in the corner. Restricting the opposition to 3 points on the half hour was an important plus for the Blues, especially as they failed to pick u any points with their next visit to the opposition red zone. Defence was colossal for the Cheshire side managed to keep the men in green hoops out just before half time which surely gave them the psychological edge heading into the sheds – Half Time 10-3.
The second half was a very twitchy affair with South Leicester drawing first blood 10-6 on 42 mins after the men in Blue held the ball too long but kicking options were limite playing into the strong gusty wind, but 3 minutes later Barker responded from tee after Brendan Berry forced a pen out of Collingham. Both teams were taking 3 points whenever offered which gives you some idea about the conditions, the pitch and the game of rugby we saw today.
From that point on it was an arm wrestle, with neither side taking advantage of their red zone visits and the Blues survived a few onslaughts, South Leicester probably edging the number of red zone opportunities but the Blues’ defence was resilient and for mistakes out of the visitors. The bench played their part with Chris Jones giving plenty of go forward after he came on for Degroot who hobbled off with an ankle injury, and the ever enthusiastic Tom Poole played well in a slightly unfamiliar role at loose head after a huge shift by the ever improving and impressive Berry. Tom Mantell will have a fight for his shirt when he returns and with Berry an experienced hooker Sam Moss may be looking over his shoulder also.
The last phase of play in the game saw the home side put together 23 phases including a Lewis Barker break, which forced a penalty which was put into the corner and the impressive Ryan Parkinson carried well over the gainline to set up Franky Barker’s pass to fellow lock Dave Marwick to score in the corner, and with that the result was sealed. This was a day for the forwards and so it was quite fitting that the forwards combined to get the last score. The home forwards came up huge for the side today, constantly laying the platform and driving them up the pitch in the scrum and maul.
Macclesfield have had a tough few weeks but having broken the miserable run, having really had to dig deep in their locker, hopefully confidence has been restored and with a number of their injuries returning in the next 2 weeks the Blues must be looking to build on this platform and return to the more familiar end of the table.
Tries: Parkinson (21), Marwick (79)
Conversions: L. Barker (22)
Penalties: L. Barker (5, 45)
Penalties: Aley (40, 42, 66)
Sin Bins: Aley (9)
Referee: George Selwood
Star man: Billy Robinson-on the day of his 200th Cap Robinson was massive at the scrum in a game that was all about the forwards and the battle of the big boys. Chief Exec Pete Harper gave Ryan Parkinson the award in the clubhouse after though, and special mention should go to him for his constant over the gainline carrying.
Macclesfield (1-8 and 15-9): Berry, Moss, Robinson, F. Barker, Marwick, Degroot, Palmer, Parkinson (c) and Reed, Mayor, Winterbottom, Davenport, Hall, L. Barker, Townsend
Replacements: Sherratte, Poole, Jones, Lacey, Lomax.
South Leicester (1-8 and 15-9): McNaughton, Johnson, Murray, Compton, Ward, Ireland, Moolman, Collingham and Venus, Cooke, Nunney, Pohe, Bean, Aley, Shaw
Replacements: Cave, Boshi, Harris, Marks, Harrison.