Macclesfield were hoping to bounce back from a narrow defeat to Fylde last week and transfer some of their home form to the away trips. However today was not the day that the boys were able to record their first away win of the season.
Gone are the days when teams could rock up to Lockwood Park and expect a relatively comfortable afternoon with a 5 point souvenir to take home on the bus and get on the beers on the trip home.
The first half was an edgy affair, with the home side dominating territory in the early stages, as they generated 2 breaks down the left side but were unable to convert either, with some dogged scramble defence from the Cheshire side.
When possession did come Lewis Bradley, the home side flanker, repeatedly managed to get over the ball, and a lack of execution in the early phases meant chances to make an in-roads were limited.
The first points of the match came from Chris Johnson’s boot (ex-Fylde and Sale FC) after a Macc exit set was foiled at the breakdown under their own posts.
The maul looked the Priory park outfits best platform and this is how they worked their way into the Huddersfield 22 for their first opportunity but the ball was lost in contact when Morton shifted out side. The lads paid the price for not taking the opportunity as the ball was lost at the breakdown and after some impressive offloading by the hosts, a penalty was given for offside, which Johnson put in the corner and Sharpe broke off the back of the resulting maul on the blind side to score (8-0 after 28mins).
History repeated itself as Macc couldn’t retain possession in good field position before giving away a penalty in their own half, which Johnson kicked from 45m out (11-0 on 34 mins).
Macc fought hard just before the break with a strong attack into the opposition 22 but the ball was lost, before pushing the West Yorkshire outfit of their own ball and after a strong carry from Broster as well as half breaks from Burden and Blackwell, Mantell was held up over the line with the half time whistle going before there was time for the 5m scrum.
It had been a cagey first period however, after the break, the match burst into life with a whopping 45 points shared between the two teams.
The Cheshire side had the bulk of the ball immediately after the restart but again squandered possession and were punished by after some quality offload play down the right by the home side, with Sharpe on the end of the last pass making it 16-0 on 44 minutes.
Macc had to dig in finding it difficult to break out their own half, Huddersfield defending the phases well and covering every inch of the back field making it hard for Morton to find an exit route. Eventually the pressure told and Johnson was presented with a chance to extend the lead from the tee but hit the post twice.
The men in blue still couldn’t find a way out their half and were pegged back by their own handling errors, before winger Hodson broke the line on a first phase move off a scrum to set up Stewart for the score and Johnson added the extras to surely put the result beyond Macc at 23-0.
Macclesfield weren’t finished though, and enjoyed some good territory before stealing the ball in midfield on the left wing and Sam Broster broke when the ball was shifted wide, but couldn’t find one of his supporting runners when within sight of the try line. The lads went again after Stelmazsek’s quick lineout throw from a home side clearance and after building positive phases the thorn in their side Bradley finally was adjudged to have infringed and Morton put to the corner, Stelmazsek eventually scoring from close range after a good maul making it 23-7 on the hour.
Chance for a comeback? Unfortunately, any thoughts of something special were put to bed when Macc were trapped on the ball in their own half and Huddersfield when looking for the try bonus, eventually coming off the back of a number of post maul pick an go’s, Bradley the scorer.
If the lads can bottle what they were on in that last 10 minutes and distribute it before games every week they might be at the other end of the table by the end of the season because they played with a frantic pace that caused problems for the home side as they went in search of losing and try bonus points.
Macc put phases together off a scrum in ‘Field territory before bursting into the ’22, before Dan Lomax was on the end of an brilliant grubber by Tom Morton into the corner for an immediate response and Morton was on hand to reduce the arrears by a further two points (30-14 on 68 mins).
Huddersfield scored again through Entressengle but at that stage the points against column was inconsequential. Macc wanted that elusive try bonus to sty in contact with the teams around them who all picked up losing bonus points on the same day.
It was the away team who had the last word. Going side to side in Huddersfield’s 22, having retained the kick off and won a penalty to go to the corner. After a number of phases Myles Hall showed great desire to score in the corner with Morton’s conversion missing The men in blue were ready waiting for the restart but the referee called full time. That last try possibly just took a bit too much time to come to allow the Cheshire side to go again for the 4th.
Huddersfield are fourth with their eleventh win and now have a third consecutive league win while Macc will be doing the mathematics on points available from the remaining games. Its going to be a real fight to escape the drop but it’s do-able, Macc just need to keep their foot on the pedal for 80 minutes rather than playing with verve and pizzazz when the game has gone and could do with picking up some points on the road if they can sneak an away win, preferably away at Leicester Lions in February which is a huge month for the Priory Park club as they play all their nearest rivals.