But as it turned out there was no need to panic as The Blues rolled out a brand of rugby that had been lacking all season, putting in their best performance probably since the N2N title winning season 2 years ago with the sunshine appearing to be the catalyst.
The home side scored 4 first half tries, having the confidence and self belief to play an expansive offloading game and thoroughly enjoying themselves in the sun. Stourbridge didn’t know what happened to their lead as backs Lomax (2), Allsop and Broster going over and all but one converted by the departing Lewis Barker to lead 26-21 at half time. Lomax scored just wide of the posts after the forwards mauled into the Stour 22, shortened up the defence and the backs went through the hands on 12 minutes. The Blues then showed great phase play patience in the red zone before Broster picked over the ruck to touch down their first of 3 tries in 8 minutes. Lomax finished another from a strike move off a scum in the middle of the pitch before patience was held as the home side went through the phases to allow the impressive Nick Allsop to snipe over. The Blues led 26-14 after half an hour.
Everything was going wrong for the visitors who repeatedly dropped ball and didn’t impose the physicality they had showed in the first 12 minutes, which included losing veteran scrum half Petty to a yellow on 27 minutes, but full back Heatley did recover a score from a box kick which he returned from 20-odd metres out without being touched 5 minutes before the break (26-21).
If Stourbridge got the rocket from their coach at half time it didn’t show as Macclesfield picked up where they left off, continuing to chuck the ball around to the sound of cries of ‘Joue Joue’ from the home crowd which included injured players Billy Robinson and Tom Burden who were enjoying the good weather and some cool amber refreshments.
The Blues signalled their intent to not remove their foot from the accelerator as Myles Hall caught Tom Morton’s restart to put them on the front foot again and that is where the Cheshire outfit remained for the majority of the second half. The combination of Morton and Barker is one that will be missed next season as Barker moves on, as they marshalled the attack from pretty much everywhere, moving the ball with fizz and frequency. Barker himself got on the score sheet as it seemed The Blues would score everytime they were within sight of the Stour line and Broster even seemed to toy wth his opponents giving an inside ball to Morton when there was a 3 on 1 overlap outside but again, that word patience, led to a nice finish which Barker converted himself – 33-21 on 43 minutes.
Further mistakes by the visitors allowed Macc field position and again the forwards shortened up the team in Pink long enough for Barker to offload to Lomax in the tackle who completed his hat-trick. Lomax enjoying a good solid game in a season where he has craved consistency at times.
There may have been a slight worry when the crowd were silenced by a kick return try from Morgan to keep the travelling fans invested in what they were watching, on 55 minutes (40-28) but when they yielded a penalty 35m out from their posts, the also departing Captain Ryan Parkinson who had just been subbed receiving an ovation from the stand, signalled for the posts and Barker put the Blues 15 points ahead.
James Hampson on the right wing must have felt lonely being the only starting back who didn’t score, as again a great move off the back of the maul was finished by Myles Hall in the corner to but the win beyond doubt.
The last 5 minutes belonged to Stourbridge who worked their way up the pitch with a series of penalties and finished with a soft maul try really but by that point the heat had taken the most out of the Blues who were pleased with their days work and so they should be.
This was a magnificent display of flowing running rugby and many of the men in Blue put their hands up for man of the match. Tom Morton and Lewis Barker were outstanding in directing the attack, Sam Broster carried hard into contact, and all the forwards were powerful in the set piece, scrum and maul as a unit, but the award had to go to scrum half Nick Allsop who was subbed on the hour after putting in an electric display.
The crowd were rewarded for sticking with the team in what has been a difficult year and a party atmosphere ensued after the game which is their last at home this term.
Looking ahead to next season if the Blues can recreate this kind of player during the depths of winter, and replace the departing big names with some quality players, then being in the mix for the title doesn’t seem like being an unreasonable possibility.