By Luke Murphy
A clash between 4th and 5th in the table occurred on Saturday in Wakefield, as Macclesfield travelled to take on Sandal.
Macclesfield led Sandal in the table by a solitary point prior to the fixture, adding extra significance to the encounter.
It was The Boys in Blue who left the victors, coming out on top 46-21 and earning a try bonus point.
Sandal took the lead, thanks to an early try from the outside centre, latching on to an offload to go in untouched and the conversion was scored.
Retaliation was needed, it came from Harry Oliver; Myles Hall lured in the last defender, only to throw the ball over him to leave an easy run in under the posts. Will Davies converted with ease and levelled proceedings 7-7.
It was then Ill-discipline that let Macclesfield down in the 16th minute; with Sandal scoring a penalty try courtesy of a Macc hand batting the ball down, over and out of the in-goal area. The locals knew the rules and urged for the penalty try, and the referee obliged.
The men from Yorkshire now led 14-7 until Sam Moss broke the line, who then fed Sam Stelmaszek a neat pass. He had too much pace and dotted down; and with the conversion being successful, the game was again level.
In the 28th minute, Myles Hall scored the try to give Macc the lead in the match. He sidestepped a leggy defender to finish with ease, with the conversion going over the lead grew to 21-14.
The visitors added to the home side’s woes by going up 28-14 in the last ten minutes of the half. A rolling maul was finished by Sam Moss and Will Davies added an additional penalty before the break.
Whilst the breakdown area and forwards battle had been even throughout the half, the score at half time had been 31-14 to Macclesfield. The main difference and edge came from broken play as returning skipper Tom Morton used his kicking game and distributed well in the middle of the park to create chances.
With the try bonus point in the bag, the main objective was to ensure the victory, but as in the first half, Sandal scored the first points, their left winger came inside on a crash-ball which proved to be too difficult to stop, the conversion was made and the lead was cut to 10.
With match security in mind, Will Davies slotted a penalty from 38 metres out. It was great to see the team playing freely, but also with the ability to finish opportunities when they came their way.
Fatigue finally set into Sandal’s side and in the last ten minutes, Macc scored a further two tries. The first came from Sam Moss, who for the second time this match scored from a rolling maul.
Harry Oliver then added the cherry-on-the-top of the proverbial cake by intercepting a pass and sprinting in close to the posts, which left Will Davies an easy conversion.
In the second half, Macc had only conceded one try in total, which ultimately ensured Sandal never got within touching distance – scoreboard wise. In a post-match interview with Head Coach Andy Appleyard, he said: “In this league, defense will win you the league, we have really focused on this defence and we are making sure we always have fifteen men on their feet”.
The win itself now takes Appleyard’s men into 3rd position in the league. The try bonus point that was collected on Saturday is the fifth of the season and is the most, out of any team in the league.