Macclesfield were looking to build on last weeks’ impressive win away at South Leicester while Sheffield were desperately looking for points to take them away from the drop. Despite their lowly position their defensive record is only 7th most tries conceded in the league so more of a test than it would appear on paper.
If the visitors to Priory Park have one weapon it is mauling, so Blues’ Coach Marshall Gadd must have been fuming when they were given an opportunity to put to the corner straight away and from the resulting lineout maul prop Rylance picked over to score after 2 mins. The first ten minutes absolutely belong to Sheffield, who returned to the Macclesfield red zone again shortly after but were unable to get over the line.
Despite their lowly league position Sheffield have no tbeen ‘humped’ by anyone and only average 26 points conceded a game so it was never going to be an easy task to take 5 points here.
Macc had to absorb a lot of early pressure with indiscipline and inaccuracy the issues early on, but the Blues wrestled back the territorial advantage and grew into the game, going close through Charlie Reed off a strike move and then eventually scoring through Dan Lomax after 17 mins following a strong maul and backs’ move. The home side looked a bit sluggish in the first half and were made to go through the phases by a physical Sheffield team but scored again shortly after through Myles Hall on 24 mins, who broke through from 10m out on the 13th phase of the attack where the Cheshire outfit had to show patience (12-5).
Those words inaccuracy and indiscipline were the key factors in why Macc didn’t pull away from that point, as they pegged themselves back in their own half in truth, but one of the major positives of Gadd’s reign (now 6 wins from 9) has been the defence which was resolute and deflected multiple chances limiting the visitors to 3 points from the boot of Depledge.
The Blues didn’t find app opposition 22 entries hard to come by but getting over the line proved more difficult but their score on the stroke of half time, again through Hall, broke the spine of Sheffield. Again the maul was the platform and after multiple probing phases in the Sheffield ’22 they showed good patience to engineer the break through.
The Blues started the second period much stronger than they did the first and dominated much of the early running, having rung the changes, wasting multiple early visits to Sheffield’s ‘22. Berry made way for mantel in the front row, Parkinson came on at 8 for Thorp and Laing departed for Parfitt and they started to dominate the scrum. It was from this type of set piece that Ryan Parkinson’s cute inside pass when it looked as if he was being shepherded into touch on the edge of his own ’22, on 52 minutes, allowed the pacey Charlie Reed to stretch his legs and break from his own half ultimately offloading to the less pacey but vastly more experienced veteran Chris Townsend who was one of 3 in support (24-8).
The buffer in the score line seemed to boost the home sides’ confidence and they played from deep at times, but did waste chances to make the result safe in the Sheffield Red Zone, and were left pondering those missed opportunities on 63 minutes when Fergus Wood managed to find a way over to pull one back for the Yorkshire side, despite the Blues’ defence repelling multiple attacks in the build up.
The result was made safe when Reed turned finisher in Macc’s last try on 70 mins, having pounded the visitors’ line after multiple scrum pens were yielded by Sheffield who finished strong and showed they are no mugs but could not pick up any more points. The Blues showed a lot of confidence in their play in the later stages playing from deep and chucking it about a bit but on occasion failed to capitalize on overlaps so plenty to work on.
It was good day for the Macclesfield crowd who have had to earn their wins this year and not many were as straight forward as this, but the team will have to be more clinical next week when high fliers Hinkley come to town.
Player Reaction from Chris Townsend:
“…they were very competitive in the first 10-15 minutes, the breakdown was scrappy, and they were obviously competitng, being down at the bottom of the league, we were confident we could keep the ball and play and get on top in the second half and that’s how it panned out really.”
See the website or BluesTV Youtube Channel for highlights and reaction.
Tries: Lomax (17), Hall (23, 40), Townsend (51), Reed (70)
Conversions: Morton (24, 71, 41)
Tries: Rylance (2), Wood (63)
Conversions: Depledge (64)
Penalties: Depledge (34)
Referee: Ben Davis
Star man: Myles Hall
Macclesfield (1-8 and 15-9): Berry, Moss, Robinson, Burden, F. Barker, Laing, Palmer, Thorp and Lomax, Reed, L. Barker (c), Broster, Hall, Morton, Townsend
Replacements: Mantell, Poole, Parfitt, Parkinson, Board.
Sheffield (1-8 and 15-9): Whitney, Bradford, Rylance, Parsons, (c), Clayden, France, T. Womack, Burns and Pearson, Bowman, Robson, Wood, A. Womack, Hodgson, Depledge
Replacements: Marples, Jones, Casey, Hughes, Law.