By Luke Murphy
Macclesfield had to dig deep in order to defeat a strong Alnwick side 31-26 at Priory Park.
Before the match had started, Macc needed to keep up the pace with Second-placed Blaydon whilst Alnwick were searching for a victory to take them further away from the relegation places.
Although both sides were separated by six places in the league and 17 points, the game was by no means simple.
In the 4th minute James Oliver went over to score the first try of the day. He shrugged off two tacklers to crash over in the corner and Will Davies added the extras.
A second try had been scored for Macc in the 21st minute. Sam Broster made a strong break which left the Alnwick defence on the back foot. Myles Hall then made space with a pass to leave Peter Milne a straightforward finish in the corner.
The conversion had been missed, but all seemed to be going well for the home side. The lineout had been performing well, which provided a good platform for front foot ball.
With just under 10 minutes remaining in the first half, momentum began to build for Alnwick. To further support the visitors cause, Sam Moss received a yellow card for slowing the ball down on Macc’s own try line.
The men from up north took advantage of the extra man by scoring two tries in the last five minutes of the first half.
The first was scored by Scrum half Hugh Todd, who quick tapped a penalty which caught the defence off guard.
The second was scored three minutes later. Previous try-scorer Hugh Todd made a break in the middle of the field and fed Hamish Burn, who proved to be too quick and finished in the corner.
Both conversions had been scored by Callum Burn which left Macc trailing 12-14 at half time.
If Macc wanted to win this match, it was clear they had to maintain composure and increase their intensity. The away side had been boosted by the yellow card and had muscled up in their defence.
If Macc supporters felt nervous at half time, those nerves must have taken over not long after the start of the second half. In the 45th minute Hugh Todd spotted a gap to go in under the posts and with the conversion successful the away side led 21-12.
A reaction was needed, and it came from Harry Harding. He picked up from the ruck only metres out from the line and smashed his way over. The conversion was successful cutting the deficit to just two points.
Alnwick’s lead was then put in further jeopardy after Sean Hutchinson performed a dangerous high tackle on Sam Stelmaszek. The shot at goal had been missed but pressure started to build for the visitors.
Not long after, Macc gained the lead courtesy of Harry Oliver. He received a pass and had an open wing to sprint into and went over in the corner untouched. The conversion was scored, Macc led 26-21.
Minutes later Oli Sutheran went over for the visitors. The ball was fed through multiple hands leaving an open corner to go into for the big Alnwick second row. The conversion went astray making the score all square 26-26.
The final score of the match occurred in the 68th minute from Matt Thorp. He bludgeoned his way through five different tacklers to dot down on the line. The conversion missed leaving the score 31-26.
The result could have swung Alnwick’s way but a herculean tackle from Myles Hall only metres out from the line stopped the opposition full-back from going over in the corner.
The biggest roar of the day came from the home supporters, who welcomed the referees final whistle.
Victory itself ensured Macc maintained their unbeaten record at home this season. Both sides played sublimely and provided possibly the most entertaining fixture seen at Priory Park this season.
The next fixture for Macc is away at Wirral who themselves are no pushovers. With Priory Park being a fortress this season, the importance of away wins grows even more.