Marshall Gadd’s Macclesfield side took a huge step towards their survival boost, when they secured a bonus point victory over relegation rivals Sheffield Tigers.
The win was Macc’s first since December 15th when they defeated Stourbridge and means they are now just fifteen points from safety.
Late tries from Sam Stelmaszek and Tom Mantell sealed the vital extra bonus point, to give Macc five points and send Sheffield home with none.
Macclesfield suffered the worst possible start, as just a minute in they were a try down.
Tom Lewis scored after 40 seconds, as a high ball kick was dropped by Macc and Sheffield capitalised to break the deadlock early on. Mark Ireland converted the try to give the Tigers an early seven-point lead.
Macc were poor early on and struggled to get into the game, giving away key possession and territory which put themselves on the back foot.
The Tigers then extended their lead with another try, this time scored by former Macclesfield man Greg Mellor, who went over after great hands by the backline. Ireland converted the try to extend their lead to 14 points.
Ireland then made it a seventeen-point game after just 15 minutes, through a penalty kick in front of the posts.
After a nightmare opening period, Macc finally woke up and responded to the deficit with some brilliant and courageous defending in their own 22.
Macc scrummaged well throughout and were rewarded when the Tigers scrum collapsed, and they won a penalty. They kicked to the corner and eventually went over through a pick and go try by Sam Moss. Tom Morton then scored the conversion to get Macc back in the game.
Five minutes later and we had a game on our hands as Macc drew within three points of the Tigers.
Josh Redfern went over with a pick and go try and Morton impressively converted the try, from what looked an impossible angle considering the windy conditions. Redfern now has three pick and go tries in as many weeks.
However, Redfern soon afterwards went from hero to zero as he was sent to the sin bin, two minutes later for a high tackle.
That put the pressure on Macc and they were forced to defend their own try line for the remainder of the half. But Macc saw out the half with courageous and relentless defending, forcing a knock on when Tigers looked set to go over.
Head coach Marshall Gadd described the moment as game changing.
Macc started the better of the two sides in the second half and almost took the lead when Stelmaszek looked like he was going to score but was denied by a great try saving tackle.
However, Macc were eventually rewarded for their pressure as they took the lead, after Tigers chaotically spilled the ball in their own 22 and Sam Broster was on hand to score an unconverted try.
Tigers responded to Macc’s score by winning a penalty and kicking to the corner to try to regain the lead. But Macc’s excellent defence forced the knock on.
Tigers then thought they were in again, but they were denied just before the line by an amazing try saving and it turned match winning tackle by Broster.
Macc were backed by a boisterous home crowd and the fans went into ecstasy at any opportunity.
The home crowd were soon rewarded for their support as Macc extended their lead through a try from Stelmaszek after he broke brilliantly off a scrum to score. Morton converted the try to make it a nine-point game with ten minutes to play.
Macc then sealed the win with a late try by Mantell who scored from another pick and go try in the corner, this time Morton missed the conversion but Macc saw out the win.
Try scorer Sam Moss said: ‘We went back to a simple brand of rugby that worked which they struggled to deal with.
‘Getting five points has done wonders for our season and confidence.
Head coach Marshall Gadd said: ‘I’m over the moon for the lads, to come back and show the character we did was just fantastic.
‘We fronted up and closed the space and that’s how we came away with the win.
‘For me that was a ten-point game and we had to win, it was good to stop them from getting any points in relation to the league table.
‘The 10-minute period before the half, where the boys put their bodies on the line under the cosh was so key to the win.
‘We saw the boys play for each other and put the bodies on the line.’
Ahead of next weeks game at Tynedale, he said: ‘It’ll be a totally different game, they like to throw it around. We need points, there’s no hiding behind that and we need to go with the mentality that we need to win. If we perform close to today, we’ll give ourselves every opportunity to win.’
By Ben Jaycock