Leicester Road, Hinckley
4th November 2017
by Matt Coleridge
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Macclesfield were buoyed by their hard fought win over South Leicester last week, earning 4 points that they really needed after only winning 3 from 9 so far this season. Third place Hinckley who applied their trade in N2 South last year have only lost North Sale FC and Sedgley so despite being unbeaten at home, they had reason to fear another team from that area.
It was the visiting team in Blue who started the brighter, with Myles Hall chasing down Lewis Barker’s first time kick that was put in the in goal area, the Welshman had the penalty coming but it was an inspired moment of improvisation all the same. Barker’s conversion made it 7-0 after 5 minutes.
Last weeks’ win over South Leicester really was down to the forwards and they picked up where they left off, holding up the first Hinckley entry into the Blues’ ’22, and then a big scrum allowed Ryan Parkinson and Rhodri Mayor to canter up field and clear.
Despite playing with the benefit of quite a noticeable slope in the first half Hinckley struggled to break down Macclesfield although they did enter the red zone on a number of occasions. Missed tackles allowed Gareth Turner to break but he couldn’t make his offload stick and minutes later the Blues’ repelled a number of maul initiated attacks. But the territorial pressure boiled over and scrum half Joe Glover sniped over from a maul (7-7 after 15 minutes).
The scrum battle was edged by the visitors in the first half but following a debatable penalty lost on their own ball that the men in yellow and black put into the corner and again the pressure told as James Skerritt powered over (14-7 on 23 mins).
Much the remaining play in the first half took place between the two ‘22’s, if anything perhaps more in Hinckley’s half as the Blues’ defence worked hard to prevent their big opponents gaining ground, while a few opportunities were created with Charlie Reed putting a kick through in behind for Rhodri Mayor on an overlap and the forwards had a chance to maul for the line but were pinged for accidental obstruction. The Macc defence had to keep out one more huge attack which was vital to staying in the game and only a fine rip in contact by Sam Moss before a Lewis Barker clearance prevented the home side possibly pulling out of range before half time. As mentioned the Blues probably were the stronger side at scrum time in that first period and it was through the fine efforts of the 8 men up front that a penalty was earnt just before the break only for Barker’s kick to hit the post (14-7 HT).
For the first 10 minutes after the break the Blues looked the more likely making a couple of fine breaks that they couldn’t convert and defended like lions, even turning over a home side scrum 45 metres out but Charlie Reeds hopeful long range effort at goal sailed to the left of the posts. In the next attack it appeared that the midlandsers’ were adapting to their visitors phase play getting off the line quicker, slowing the breakdown more and chancing their arm at scragging Chris Townsend at the base of the ruck and it was on one such occasion the visitors yielded a penalty that put them back in their own ’22 and seemed to take the game out of reach as Mitch Lamb broke through to score on 52 minutes and 7 minutes later the home side scored again through James Martin, earning the bonus point for Macclesfield’s hosts, having latched on to the impressive Joe Glover’s break and offload.
The Cheshire side did have opportunities in the remainder, but couldn’t keep possession long enough to make a dent in the scoreline. The game was becoming more and more frantic as it entered the final quarter both sides breaking each over and turning the ball over frequently, with neither side dominating territory but the difference was that the travelling side were not making their tackles stick at the most important time and this was the case when Martin scored off first phase on 72 minutes, stepping full back Charlie Reed in the process.
The Blues had emptied the bench by this point so valuable experience was earned for Dominic Sheratte, Tom Poole and Tom Burden who has returned from International duty with Israel, Tom Morton made his first appearance of the season, and it was the first appearance of latest signing Flanker Toby Twigg, formerly of Colwyn Bay outfit RGC (like Barker and Mayor) who made one break from a powerful carry in midfield, but that was the problem for Macc, the later in the game it got the deeper the breaks were in their own half.
In the last minute number 8 for Hinckley latched on to an offload to break the line and finish to cap off a good day for his men but they had to fight hard for it despite what looked like a comprehensive scoreline, 42-7. The defence has yielded 262 points which is 7th best in the league, but there are only 4 teams who have scored less points so our boys need to find that missing something in attack. The Blues sit 12th on 16 points after 10 games but with the likes of Morton returning from injury, Hampson a couple of weeks away and Matt King playing for the seconds today, they may be able to provide that missing something.