Macclesfield came into this one with high hopes, as Sedge were missing a few players and and before their win last week against Preston had lost their previous 3 and it was the home side who got off to the better start with an early turnover, followed by a Phil Laing break through the middle of Tom Morton’s delayed pass and a huge carry off 9 from Simpson put the men in blue over the gain line, Berry made sure there was quick ball available for Stelmazsek to feed the backs and Blackwell scored out wide, in the first minute.
Sedge hit back straight away, building phases from a kick reception, and taking a quick tap from a breakdown penalty with Andy Riley on the end of Collins’ chip while playing another advantage, on 8 minutes. Collins, with the simplest of conversions took his side into the lead.
The Priory Park Club then proceeded to dominate possession and territory, winning a series of maul pens in the ’22. At times Macc have been guilty of not taking their chances and after 10 minutes in Tigers territory it was vital they kept their foot on the throat, and that’s what they did, after picking for the line, Parry scored in the corner (10-7 after 23 mins). But again the visitors came back and Matt Riley powered over in the corner after his side had put a penalty into the corner. Poor defensive discipline was being punished by the away team with clinical precision.
Much of the following play was in midfield and Sedge did look likely with their power up the middle in the form of Riley and Lloyd, but using the full width of the pitch with their backline which had some pace.
Just before the break Macc managed to wrestle some territory and from a lineout in the red zone, number 8 Dafydd Rees peeled off the back of a strong maul, drawing out the guard defender and giving an inside ball to Stelmazsek who went through the gap and touch down, celebrating in style after, to put Macc back in front 17-14 at the break. Having had 70% of the territory and 58% of the ball 3 points may have been less than deserved despite the visitors’ attacking threat in phase play.
Sedgley came out all guns blazing enjoying their own spell of territory with Sam Lowthian scoring, when the pen advantage was coming on 45 mins.
That appeared to fire the home side add their supporters up, and you couldn’t tell which team was second bottom and which was top half as the hosts hunted the ball down in opposition territory, with Billy Robinson’s quick thinking spotting the ball out the ruck as scrum half McShane shaped to box kick, Simpson assisted in the steal and fed Stelmazsek who again went over to lead 24-19. Stelmazsek really seems to be enjoying himself in Rugby again after his move from Sale before Christmas.
Macclesfield had to weather a massive storm from the travelers who put on a 30 phase attack and then a 15 phase assault and but for last ditch tackles from Wara and Mantell they would have punched in sooner, but the pressure eventually told in the 69th min when Lowthion got his second from a nice cross field kick with the penalty coming (24-26).
Macc rallied and looked for the pen in phase play in the opposition half and Brosters’ kick to the corner trapped Riley but the ref called time before they could maul for the win. The Macclesfield looked stunned but also shattered as they had thrown the kitchen sink at their opponents.
The crowd were unimpressed as they felt there was time to play and go knows the Cheshire outfit needed the win, but Head Coach Marshall Gadd had no complaints and felt his shouldn’t leave it up to referee decisions: “No [complaints], its six and two 3’s, I kind of wish we had had the guy who reffed us at Hull Ionians but we just ran out of time. In all fairness we shouldn’t be in that position where we are relying on referees to do us any favours because, obviously I have had my rant in recent weeks and sometimes ive got to be honest and we can be our own worst enemies.”
Notable mentions go to Phil Liang who started for the first time this season and fully took his opportunity in the back row. Laing is not the biggest back rower you will ever see in terms of muscle mass but certainly brings a lot of energy and work rate to the side, upping the pace of the game with his frantic style, not to mention settling that curiosity we have all had some on point or another, of what it would look like if Jesus Christ played Rugby. Also, Billy Robinson left the field to a standing ovation after helping to push the Sedge scrum back all day, it was just unfortunate that he wasn’t rewarded with some of the pens the crowd clearly felt he had earned. Also Billy Wara, who came over on loan from Sale FC, burst on to the scene with a bang, as he shot out the line on a defensive drift and made a massive hit on his opposite number, and later made a try saving tackle. Surely more to come from him.
2 points for the Blues on a day when a number of the teams around them picked up wins, and the results are going to have to match the performances soon if they are to avoid the drop. Their position in the league doesn’t really tell the whole story as it seems the bigger the team that comes to Priory Lane the better the home reaction. February will be massive with all the teams around them on the fixture schedule including home games against Preston and Wharfedale. Otley away next week, a team that Macc picked up their first win of the season against but it will be a different proposition at Cross Green. The tag of valiant losers has to be shed soon.
Tries: Blackwell (1), Parry (23), Stemlazsek (40, 47)
Conversions: Morton (40, 48)
Tries: A. Riley (7) M. Riley (30), Lowthion (45, 69)
Conversions: Collins (8, 31), Glasses (70)
Referee: Ben Reynor
Star man: Matt Riley (Sedge) Sam Stelmazsek (Macc)
Macclesfield (1-8 and 15-9): Berry, Longmore, Robinson, Brand, Palmer, Laing, Simpson, Rees and Stelmazsek, Morton (c), Hall, Broster, Blackwell, Parry, Lomax
Replacements: Moss, Mantell, Cross, Thorp, Wara.
Sedgley Tigers (1-8 and 15-9): Ashcroft, Maher, Rushton, Powell, Birtwell, Goodman, Coe, Lloyd and McShane, Collins, Glasse, M. Riley, Bedlow, Lowthion, A. Riley.
Replacements: Watt, James, Skofic, Holloway, Harrison.