Macclesfield came into this one with a new found confidence after a rousing first win of the season at home to Otley last week, and they must have felt that they had turned the corner after 5 straight defeats at the start of the season.
Macclesfield started the better picking up a penalty through captain Tom Morton after 3 minutes as the Priory Park outfit appeared to be managing field position the better of the two sides early on and stealing lineout ball, although the home side were superior in the scrum. But after backrower Birch made a cutting break into the Macc 22’ a penalty was yielded and Proctor pushed over from close range a few phases later.
In the testing wet and windy conditions Morton went for the posts again, missing on 22 minutes after both sides had successfully seen off multiple defensive sets but making no mistake on the half hour to put the visitors in front again 6-5. Hoppers’ lineout started to gather some consistency as Macc let poor discipline allow them into their ’22 and Proctor again scored from close range (12-6 on 33 mins).
The men in blue saw off another ’22 entry from the home side before having a great chance of their own just before the break. Morton landing a massive kick to the corner from inside his own 40m to set up the lineout a metre out. The maul was sacked and despite the celebrations from behind the sticks from the replacements, Tom Mantell’s pick and go was ruled to have been dropped over the line to the bemusement of the Macclesfield pack.
Half time 12-6.
The visitors started brightly turning over ball straight away but struggled for purchase in the scrum all day and relinquished ball and field position with a scrum penalty that Hoppers put into Macc territory, who resisted one attacked before the Preston 9 man lineout party piece paid off with Alex Hurst going over in the corner and Davidson converting (19-6) on 45 minutes.
The Cheshire side launched a ten minute tirade on their Lancashire hosts’ ’22 but despite picking up pen after pen and going through phase after phase there was no way through and the chance was lost. The game continued the way it had gone most of the afternoon, a real arm wrestle between the 22’s, but as time went on it was Hoppers who looked the more likely with a break from Spence down the right setting up an attack before he was surely in again 22m out when a wayward pass took the chance away from him.
It looked like the comeback was on when Jordan Davies rounded off a great team try on 70 mins and there were a few local fans sitting rather uncomfortably, as they feared they may give away the lead as they had at Otley 2 weeks prior.
Unfortunately Macc were pegged back from that point forward after Morton was sacked behind his goal line after an attempted exit and it seemed more likely the Hoppers were going to get their 4th try than Macc were going to get back in to it, and so it remained.
The boys from Cheshire will be disappointed with this one as the game was there for the taking, and they just didn’t match up physically. However the young squad is molding and developing slowly but surely and a collection of wins is surely just around the corner, its just about putting together that 80 minute performance that currently alludes Macclesfied.