This was Macclesfield’s final fixture of last season when Wharfedale claimed victory to secure their National 2 North status. Macc had a disappointing follow up to their home victory at home to Otley with a defeat away at Preston where numerous chances were squandered by both sides.
The Cheshire side started well winning two set piece pens and putting to the corner before the lineout was overthrown, while ‘Dale were running it from deep and making breaks before they also squandered an early chance within sight of the whitewash.
The first score came for the visitors in the 12th minute having gone through 15 phases in the hosts’ ’22, in the form of hooker Nico Nyemba cutting a nice line 10m out. But the men in green were not having any of that and the scrum half Gaudie the scorer sniping from close range to trail 5-7 after 16 mins. This reinvigorated ‘Dale and they were playing some entertaining ball in hand rugby, finding gaps and eventually forced a pen and put to the corner and second row Headley benefitted from a reverse move off the lineout to score in the corner (10-7).
Macc survived another 22 entry before Matt Thorpe (on for Nyemba) charged down a box kick in midfield during an extensive kicking battle, and again after the Cheshire side showed great patience, Sam Parry touched down in the corner making it 14-10 to the visitors on the half hour (Tom Morton converting both tries).
Minutes later the Yorkshire side managed to wrestle a penalty from the scrum in blue territory and and went for the corner, again converting the chance to reclaim the lead (15-14). The home side appeared to have wrangled control of the game just before the break when Burridge laid the platform again, for Bullough to extend the gap 20-14. Macc just hadn’t seen enough of the ball in the right areas to make an impact in that half.
The second half started brightly for the visitors who made the most of the ball in hand building phases from their own half in to the ‘Dale half and when a break down penalty was forced Tom Morton went for sticks and slotted the penalty accordingly to trail 20-17 after 43 minutes. It got better 11 minutes later when Broster and Davies combined to break down the left hand side before putting 20 odd phases together in the home sides’ ’22 before Davies completed the move he’d help start from close range (20-22).
Davies and Morton both broke the line shortly after but the move broke down 5m out with a handling error when the try line was begging to be crossed. This would prove to be a clinical chance missed as Macc were forced further and further back by the green pack who forced penalties and the Priory Park outfit found themselves on their own line for much of the remainder, conceding from a pushover after Berry was yellow carded for repeated scrum pens (27-22 on 70 minutes).
It was the scrum where ‘Dale turned the screw really as another scrum pen was given away in Macc territory 4 minutes later and the home side took the 3 points to lead by 8 with 6 minutes left.
The lads went for it and again phases built points as Morton kicked a penalty from 40m-ish out to give the travellers a life line (30-25).
Both teams were going for it now and possession was wrestled between the two teams in midfield. It looked like Macc might nick the win when Sam Parry broke and cantered down the right wing but Jonny Mason was not afforded the protection he needed and was scragged after the resulting breakdown and the ball spilled to the grateful Wharfedale substitute back who ran it in from over half way.
It was a disappointing end to the game for Macc who had looked well in it in that second half. Perhaps the gracsious victors’ own twitter feed said ti best with their final tweet professing ‘Every credit to @MaccRUFC who made a huge fight of it in that half but a wins a win’.
Macc looked patient in the red zone and can build on the confidence of the fact they converted their chances which has been a failing at times and a tremendous strength of character to dig in they maintain, but will want to turn these heroic defeats into points sooner rather than later. As we know only too well in this game you don’t always get what you deserve. Stick with it lads, it’ll come.
photograph copyright @whardfedale RUFC Photos