By Luke Murphy
Macclesfield made it five wins in a row after producing a stunning comeback away at Wirral.
Macc trailed 17-0 going into the last 15 minutes, but then displayed championship qualities by scoring three tries to steal the victory.
It took 16 minutes for the first score of the game to occur. Wirral created an overlap on the left wing, then Sam Stelmaszek jumped the line and batted the ball down which stopped a certain try. The referee awarded a penalty try and gave a yellow card to the scrum half.
The home side increased their lead, courtesy of a penalty kick by James Annetts, from centre field, 35 metres out in the 27th minute.
For the final 10 minutes of the half, Macc enjoyed time in Wirral’s territory but failed to accumulate points. The closest Macc came to scoring was through Matt Thorp. The forwards had displayed great strength through multiple hard carries, but Thorp knocked on metres out after strong contact dislodged the ball.
The score at the end of the first half was 10-0 to the home side.
A positive to take, was the level of physicality on show. Both sides were competing greatly at the breakdown and stayed resolute in their defences.
Early in the half, Chris Speed for Wirral had been injured after he made a tackle. It is understood that he suffered a dislocated elbow.
In the 44th minute, Wirral broke free and looked certain to score their second try of the match, but Stelmaszek tackled the Wirral centre metres out from the line, which then forced a forward offload which let Macc off the hook.
Macc’s backline saw the return of Tom Morton, which added an extra kicking option that had been utilised well in the second half.
Will Davies had an opportunity to score the first points of the day for Macc through a penalty, 22 metres out in the 54th minute. The attempt went wide but Macc had certainly increased their intensity levels.
Tom Parry for Wirral had been sent to the bin after coming around the front of a promising attacking maul.
In the 64th minute, the home side scored through Ben Brooks. A handling error allowed the Wirral Winger to pounce and kick the ball behind the defence and over the try line, leaving the easy task of dropping down on the ball. The conversion for James Annetts was scored easily enough pushing the lead out to 17-0.
Only minutes later Hayden Long was sent to the bin, taking the hosts down to 13 men. This acted as blood in the water, which in turn led to the comeback of the season thus far in the league.
In the 68th minute Dan Percival latched onto a one-handed offload from Dafydd Rees to score in the corner, with the conversion successful from Will Davies, the score was 17-7.
Myles Hall three minutes later made a break from halfway which left him one on one with Wirral’s full back. He then passed to Will Davies who sprinted to go in under the posts untouched, which left an easy conversion.
The pendulum swung Macc’s way in the 76th minute after James Oliver beat three defenders with quick footwork to go over the line in the corner.
The conversion did not go over which left the score 17-19.
In the last two minutes of the game, Wirral’s James Annetts missed two penalty kicks from the halfway line which sealed their fate.
After the match, Coach Andy Appleyard said ‘we all know what we’re here to do, we all know how we want to play, and we all believe in it. We need to do it from kick off, if we start well then it pins us up to finish well’.
Up next, is top of the table Billingham. If Macclesfield can play to their potential, there is no reason why they cannot hand the runaway leaders their first loss of the season.
One thing is for certain, it will be an entertaining encounter at Priory Park this coming Saturday that cannot be missed.