Macclesfield headed over to North West rivals Flyde this weekend which was always going to be a tough test for the young but hungry side. Unfortunately for Macclesfield the recently Nat 1 relegated side reacted well to their close defeat to Grasshoppers the week before.
After trading penalties early on from both team’s first attacks, Fylde settled into their possession based game, building from deep and Macc seemed comfortable defending the phases building confidence with a couple of long defensive sets, not giving much away, the highlight being a textbook turnover in his own half by flanker Joe Palmer.
However they did give away the first 2 tries to the home side, after Greg Smith had given Fylde the lead from the tee, when in the 15th minute winger Grimes profited from a lost Macc throw on the edge of their own 22 and went over in the corner (13-3). The second score again came from a Macc lineout deep in their own territory which was deemed not straight, and from the Fylde throw Sale Shark’s Sam Dugdale, powered through the defence to score on his debut (20-3 after 24 minutes).
Macc didn’t let the score line affect them and put some good spells of possession together, and wrestled the territory back, they just couldn’t convert, so it was disappointing when the impressive Tom Carleton broke off a 1st phase strike move on half way to extend the lead on the half hour (27-3). The Cheshire outfit will have expected to have defend for long spells and seemed to turn the ball over well so to concede tries in the manner they had was in a bizarre way a positive that they had not let Fylde execute their game plan.
The shots being traded were highly physical and both teams suffered injuries in that first half, with Jordan Simpson being replaced by Adam McCarthy returning to his former side, and the Fylde scrum half Cameron Crampton suffering an unfortunate ankle break. We wish him a speedy recovery.
Macclesfield’s best spell in the first period came right at the end of the half, when Morton moved the ball wide allowing Board to feed the ball past the advancing defenders and put Blackwell in to space to bound down the wing, and when the home defenders managed to get him down they were penalised before Mason tapped and advanced into the ’22, where Macc remained for the remaining 8 minutes of the half. You felt as if, if Macc could just punch back in here then a comeback might be on second half but they couldn’t quite find a way over despite a couple of lineout mauls before spilling on the stroke of half time (27-3).
The second period started lively, with Henry Hadfield scoring on 43 minutes to make it an uphill task after a penalty in midfield had allowed the home side to advance into the red zone although Macc’s lineout defenders were unlucky not to steal the resulting lineout. But the men in blue went in search of bonus points got some purchase from a well-deserved strong maul from 15m out, Vice-Captain Sam Moss emerging from the bottom of the pile for his 30th try for the club in his 277th appearance.
The game opened up as the Priory Park outfit started to play a more possession based game and from deeper. Wilkinson and Hadfield took advantage of the open space on 55 and 61 minutes before Macc had a strong spell in the red zone again, which proved fruitless despite 2 driving mauls for the line.
The score line looked brutal but in this new era for Macclesfield who are blooding so many young players at the moment, it is important we consider that it is early days and this was an opposition who have just come down from National One with a lot of experience and plenty of already well-honed Lancashire talent. Macc defended like Lions for long spells showing great resilience and put a lot of shots on their opponents, with a notable cover tackle from Myles Hall that will undoubtedly find its way onto social media. The team is building and the new faces are gelling while the team adapts to new attack coach Andy Appleyard’s structure. It has to be said that once again the spirit in the camp throughout was fantastic and there seems to be a real unity around the team.
Assistant Coach Andy Appleyard spoke after the game:
”At the moment we haven’t seen the results on the pitch but they will come. It was always going to be a hard month fixture wise taking on clubs like Chester, Fylde and next week Huddersfield but we knew that and the lads did too. For me this is a great opportunity to learn, we are a young side but one that holds bags of potential. I feel the lads are slowly unlocking this and confidence is growing. I know how hard we work in training and this effort will pay off in the long run and when it clicks we will go from strength to strength, really looking forward to Hudds at home”
Macclesfield are looking forward to hosting Huddersfield on Saturday 3pm kick off.
Be there, be the 16th man and help our lads build!