PROMOTION DOOR AJAR!
There were no games for the 1st team squad last weekend so all eyes have been focused upon the big game on Saturday 1st of February against table-topping Harrogate. The importance of this promotion-chasing contest cannot be underestimated. Harrogate will be keen to cement their position at the top of the table, whilst Macclesfield will be confident to take their recent good form into this exciting contest. All the top-four teams play each other on Saturday and if Blaydon turn-over the off-form Billingham, it opens the door for Macclesfield to steal the top spot. Only 5 points separate the top four teams as they jostle to get into position for the race to automatic promotion, and a win for any side will be a major boost at this critical time.
If anything, momentum is in Macclesfield’s favour, after an eight try demolition of Kirkby Lonsdale; in contrast, Harrogate were disappointed with their narrow win against Carlisle, all be it with a four try bonus point. Whilst most of the squad took a timely rest last week, four of our young-guns represented Cheshire in the county U20 Championship on Sunday, coming out winners 40-14 against Staffordshire. Tries were scored by Will Davies and James Oliver, with his brother Harry and Harry Harding making up the Macclesfield quartet – the boys do the Club and Macclesfield proud.
Whilst most of the players took a rest at the weekend, training has continued, Head Coach Andy Appleyard told me: “…last Tuesday was full-on, other than the boys that needed to rest damaged bodies, and Thursday was more specific, concentrating on the things that we want to do really well, creating opportunities. We want to concentrate on our game rather than adapt to how Harrogate play their game, although both teams will have changed their styles in the last four 4 months when we played up at Harrogate. We still have a side that is made up of some very young boys that are improving all the time; our aim is for players to improve throughout the season, by 1% week-on-week”. Andy and Forwards’ Coach Rick Jones are in a good position going into this game with a solid squad to select from. They also know just how important the Priory Park faithful can be to the team, Andy says: “When the ground is rocking it feels like you’ve got another three or four players on the team – we hope it’s a sell-out!”
The Club has created some special offers for Saturday: VISITORS WITH A MEMBER £5, MACCLESFIELD SPORTS CLUB MEMBERS & MACC TOWN SEASON TICKET HOLDERS £5
(Bring your Membership Card or Season Tickets), BASIC ENTRY: MEMBERS £5 NON MEMBERS £10
U16S GO FREE. The atmosphere should be electric, and in the Clubhouse, prior to kick-off, rugby legend, John (Bentos) Bentley will be entertaining the guests at the President’s Lunch, why not listen in from The Spiral Lounge.
Macclesfield 3rd XV 5 – Kirkby Lonsdale 2nd XV 28.
In a rearranged game, that was played at the third time of asking, due to the weather, Macclesfield managed to field a squad of 18 players for this clash against a high-flying Kirkby Lonsdale 2nd team.
The organisation of Kirkby put Macclesfield under immediate pressure from the kick-off, as Macc took some time to get to know each other, scoring 3 quick tries without reply. Once the team started to gel the final 20 minutes of the first half was completed dominated by Macclesfield who were camped in the Kirkby 22 for most of the period.
Excellent forward work by Elliot Jones and Oscar Roberts combined with the continued harassing from Sam Bancroft, resulted in Macc’s one and only try. From a scrum just outside the Kirkby 22 Jack Caswell broke blind from no8, passing to Harry Grant who fainted right and then gave a bullet pass inside to Rik Hopkin who scorched under the posts without the defence getting anywhere near him. After that Macc kept applying constant pressure right up to the end of the first half and were unfortunate not to get another score.
The second half had started, just how the first half had ended, with Macc having the majority of possession, and camped inside the Kirkby half, but due to the resilience of Kirkby’s defence Macc were unable to get another score. Kirkby scored a late try to make the final score 28-5 and the Kirkby coaches were heard to comment that this game had been their sternest test this season.
Players of note on the day for Macc were the 3 Harrys (Grant, King and Jackson) along with Oscar and the tenacious Sam Bancroft and Cameron Mackay. But MOM was Elliot Jones who put so much hard work in and around the fringes.
Macclesfield 4th XV 39 Burnage 3rd XV 14
4 from 4 in 2020
The incredible Macc 4s travelled to Burnage to face their 3s in the quarter finals of the cup on a cold winter’s Saturday.
Macc were met by a confident 3rd team, fit, young and at (what they perceived to be) an advantage by opting to play on their 4G pitch.
From the whistle it was clear that the home side were good at handling the ball and relied upon moving it out to a very quick wing. Unluckily for them, Macc turned up well before the whistle with an unshakable focus on winning the cup, strengthened by the strongest brotherhood, so rarely found these days, that ensured all 15 played as hard as they could for each other. No team in the league can match that.
The massive pack consisted of Jason, Dalo and captain Boz at the front, Louis and Jack in the engine room with Rob M, birthday boy Scotty flanking and Streety at 8. The experience and strength in the pack quickly dominated scrums, destroyed rucks and countered malls.
Smithy and Nick Smith provided an excellent 9-10 channel, allowing Kieran, Matt B, Matt H, Simon and Ryan to work magic ball.
The second half saw Troy and Hoggy come on and add new vigour.
Solid forwards rolling ball saw Jack go over the line and get Macc ahead. Burnage’s tactics soon paid off on their wide pitch and their fast wing ran well to score and level up the scores. Macc’s heads remained high and forward dominance set up Jack for another try. From then on the backs dominated the game and seeing excellent running by all: tries by Smithy, a 60 yard solo break-away run delivering the goods, Nick Smith, Matt B and Ryan. There was another score in there from the home side somewhere.
Burnage played fluid rugby and bounced-back strongly after each Macc try, which is to their credit. But a lack of cohesive play coupled with discipline issues from their captain was no match for an incredible Macc performance.
Special mentions to: Matt B, exceptional kicking, running and tackling; a pivotal part of every play.
Streety, unmatched running and focus making huge distance each time; Dalo, excellent running, never let the ball go and always there at the breakdown; Ryan, an inspiring 80 yard dash that turned into a waddle after about 20 yards seeing him tackled into touch; Manny excellent coaching from the side, providing positive reinforcement and bringing years’ of expertise to the game; Nick Smith, running, aggression and a voice of sanity and reason throughout the game. After suffering from a very challenging time off field, it’s amazing to see Nick turn up, commit fully to the win and draw strength, love and support at the shoulders of his rugby kin.
Next week sees us entertain Ashton-on-Mersey who will need to be ready for the full force of Macc 4s looking to settle a loss earlier in the season – onwards and upwards lads!