Macclesfield RUFC 45 – 55 Sheffield Tigers
Macclesfield came into this off the back of 3 straight defeats and found themselves in the unfamiliar surroundings of the bottom half as Sheffield had the same record, 2 win from 6.
The visitors scored first in a first half that defied belief, with winger Pond going over in their first attack with Charlie Reed stepping out to try the pass intercept only to provide a gap to go through instead when they appeared to be numbered up in defence. Reed went some way towards making up for his mistake playing a lovely flat pass to put lock Franky Barker through the gap who set up Sam Parry to finish well.
The teams exchanged tries again, with Jamie Broadley finding a gap in the midfield due to a slow drift by Billy Robinson, before Lewis Winterbottom rounded off a move where Sam Parry had latched on to Chris Townsend’s box kick and Max Smith broke through. That was the highlight of Winterbottom’s day as he struggled to deal with the electric Broadley. From then on what ensued for the remainder of the half can barely be described as anything other than chaos from a home point of view.
Sheffield scored 4 more tries before half time, which were almost all from home side mistakes, turnovers and poor exits that the highly impressive Sheffield backs ran back through gaping gaps. Mellor scored 2, Packard 1 and Broadley grabbed his second. The Blues actually looked the better and more likely in phase play but they seemed to force the play when they got field position and butcher their chances while loosing 2 of their own scrums didn’t help either and the same could be said for some of Referee Mick Harris’ interpretation of when the ball was out of the ruck and what lying on top of the ruck actually was but in reality the Macc lads had no one to blame but themselves. The half time score stood at an incredible 14-42 with Mark Ireland adding insult to injury from the kicking tee.
The Cheshire side knew they had an uphill task to win and so started quickly with a moment of brilliance from Sam Parry to score.
But the fightback was temporarily suspended as an horrific injury saw Blues Captain Smith suffer a broken leg and was stretchered off to the ambulance with his season almost certainly over. We should point out that the medical staff responded immediately and with total professionalism, with the visiting physio assisting Blues Physio Ross Mitchell and Doctor Phillip Gruenback. Smith has posted images of his leg in cast since and so appears to be in decent spirits despite the experience and we wish him the best in his recovery.
After the restart full back Dan Lomax went over on 44 minutes after a great break by half time sub Tom Davenport, 28-42 – game on! Hopes of a comeback were temporarily dented when Swatkins finished a break 6 minutes later, having identified an overlap on the short side, before Macclesfield claimed the next 3 scores through 2 mauls (Sherratte at the bottom of both) and Parry again with another impressive sub Bruce Lacey involved. 45-50 with 9 minutes to go…could the impossible happen??
But Macc had turned the ball over too easily all day and another ball spilling out of a ruck fell to the lightening Broadley who and just been to quick all game, and made the result safe for the visitors in the 76th minute. The Blues went in search of a bonus point and their final attack reaped a penalty on the ’22 right of centre which Reed opted to kick at goal but missed with the last kick of the game.
Some more young lads performed well today, with Lacey making an impression from the bench, Burden making his first start in the row and Sam Parry picked up a hat trick. But the real performer was Liam Parfitt, who finished the game as captain and appeared to revel in the responsibility. The former Sale Shark and England Counties’ U18 international carried like an animal constantly powering over the tackle line, and seemed to be everywhere in defence.
Sale away for Macc next, the games get no easier but as Crystal Palace showed in Football’s Premier League today, perhaps the biggest performance of the season so far will come in the face of our toughest test?