COVID 19 CANCELS WIRRAL
Although there was some rugby, from the 2nd tier downplayed on Saturday, around the country; worriers now are that some leagues will not be completed. This cascades down from the Six Nations to the Premiership and beyond, with promotions and relegations in the balance. Macclesfield now has two league games to fit in, assuming, of course, that there are no further postponements. Wirral cried-off the Priory Park fixture on Friday, after seeking advice from the RFU. One of their squad had been advised to self-isolate, in addition, a wife of a member who had also tested positive for Coronavirus, no doubt that the right decision was made. Plans are now in hand to replay this match on the evening of Thursday 9th or Friday 10th April; with the rearranged match against Blackburn currently scheduled for the 25th April.
It has been a strange season so far for Andy Appleyard, Rick Jones and the squad, with blank weeks, postponements and injuries, consistency and momentum has been difficult to maintain. All events are now rife with uncertainty; it’s likely that things could get worse before they get better.
The main event at Priory Park was played out on Sunday with the Cheshire Under 17 Cup Semi-Final.
Macclesfield and Knutsford Blues 0 Stockport 5
With the weather finally abating the Blues put in a determined effort at Priory Park against a very physical Stockport side which had dominated Cheshire age group rugby over several seasons. A thoroughly competitive first half saw both sides tackling strongly around the rucks and in midfield, preventing each other from gaining convincing line breaks. On the occasion that Stockport threatened the Blues line, the Blues managed to turn the ball over and clear their lines. The Blues looked to counterattack when possible and turn the Stockport defence with kicks to the corner. However, both defences held firm and 0-0 reflected the first half.
Stockport dominated territorially in the second half, The Blues defended furiously only conceding an unconverted try in the last 10 minutes of the game despite valiant efforts to reply Stockport saw the game out.
The Blues should take heart from the efforts today and over the season having only merged as a side in September and playing against sides that have been together over several seasons a more then creditable 5th place in the Halbro North West Colts U17 A league is testament to their progress and bodes well for next season, and to transitioning into the Club’s senior sides in the future. Next Sunday they face Ellesmere Port in The Halbro North West League Cup.
Caldy U 15s 14 – Macclesfield U15s 14
Well done to Macclesfield Rugby Union FC U15s on reaching the Cheshire Bowl Final. The U15s took on Caldy Rugby Club U15s – and the hard-fought match ended in a 14-14 draw. The rules of the competition mean Macclesfield go through (as the away team on the day).
Thank you to Caldy Rugby Club for the hospitality and an excellent game of rugby. Good luck for the remainder of the season.
Preston Grasshoppers 2nd XV 10 Macclesfield 2nd XV 34
While Covid 19 stopped the first team the second XV went to our longstanding rivals Preston Grasshoppers and turned in a truly professional performance winning 10-34 and gaining a try bonus point.
They were bolstered by the return of Frankie Barker who had an assist with a try-scoring pass to Peter Milne in the opening stages as we faced a strong wind. Scrum-half Hetherington almost got through shortly afterwards but then the Hoppers went the length of the field to score themselves.
Before half time our muscular winger Coates-Smith ran from within our own half for a brilliant solo try, the half time score was 10-22.
Now playing with the wind behind them Jennings came on at No 10 and kicked sagaciously to use the elements, turning the Preston back 3 and forcing them to retreat. The hosts did have a good third quarter but outstanding turnovers by Thorpe and Palmer stemmed the tide.
Front row Sheratte, Holden and Caswell grafted solidly, the former linking nicely showing his footballing skills in difficult conditions, both props scored tries. Caswell was nominated by manager/coach Pete Langley as Man-of-the-Match; strong and robust in the scrummages, carrying the ball aggressively and always making it available when stopped.
Next week is a home fixture against Sedgley Park; Sam Jones’s men will be aiming to maintain their unbeaten run in Conference B.
The third team were without a fixture with the fourth team away at table-toppers Marple second fifteen. The pitch was a quagmire, but they won gaining a try bonus point.
In these uncertain times looking to the next game, their main focus is to be victorious in their cup, the semi-final is scheduled away at Preston Grasshoppers on April 2nd.
Marple 2nd XV 17 – Macclesfield 4th XV 24
Macc 4s travelled to Marple for the long-awaited face-off, the clash of the Titans, against Marple 2s, a team unbeaten in the league, except by Macclesfield last year. Both teams had been building to this match for weeks, seeing it as a clash of the 2 giants of the league and an opportunity to secure a reputation as the best in the league.
From the off, it was clear that Marple wanted to right their 2019 loss and ran strong at a great Macc defence; this ultimately led to Marple taking the lead having converted a penalty.
Macc heads remained up and defiance was strong. Again, the home side came at us hard, but Macc’s big and strong forward pack ensured turnover possession and dominance with good solid runs at a strong Marple defensive line. Very heavy, soggy pitch conditions saw the bigger lads slow a little and rely on getting the ball out to our quick and skilful backline. Good phase play saw Jack Pearce run a fantastic ball through several defenders to score.
Points on the board sharpened Macc’s focus on the win and saw the standard strong forwards phase play come into effect, supported by lovely back advancement with Dom crossing the line for try number 2. The remainder of the first half saw both teams back and forth, Marple very keen to close the gap.
The second half saw the heavy forwards run hard and smash each other up and down the park relentlessly. Scotty and Boz lead the pack with unrivalled aggression and the ability to be at every breakdown to carry and support.
Some cracking phase play by Macc forwards saw a huge 50m gain followed by lovely rumble ball inside the Marple 10 allowing Jack an easy pick and drive for try number 3.
Marple regained form taking advantage of a very quick scrum and tired Macc forwards, allowing their big centre to sail through for their first try.
The Macc forwards, having had enough of doing all the hard work, allowed the backs to display some flair. Young Reece ran with exceptional skill and worked well with the wing. Tom ran brilliantly to score Macc’s 4th; both Reece and Tom were fantastic all game.
Marple once again came back strong and scored, but Macc dug in, and all 15 defended to the whistle. Macc took the day 24-17 and according to one of the team had secured their place as the greatest 4th team rugby had ever seen!
Next week the fourth team are scheduled to entertain Wythenshawe, but we will see what these strange times dictate – stay sensible and stay safe lads.
Macc Lads win with Cheshire
Harry Harding, Harry and James Oliver and Will Davies, all played for Cheshire U20s on Sunday at Bowdon Rugby Club against Northumbria in the Jason Leonard U20 Championships. According to Cheshire reports the Macc lads played like Trojans, leading from the front. Cheshire beat a resurgent Northumbria winning 23 – 0 to reach the Quarter Finals, their next fixture being at home against Oxfordshire.
Clubman’s Clubman Steve Mannion
Profile this week is one of the most charismatic and vocal players at Macclesfield. Prop Forward Steve Mannion played for the Club from when he joined at age 13, 40 years ago, and recently started again, now playing regularly in the fourth team. He’s a Macclesfield boy, went to All Hallowes, then not a rugby school, so everything he knows about the game he’s learnt coming up through the sides at MRUFC.
Playing Colts rugby for 3 years, itself rather unusual, and as Captain, during which time they won the Cheshire Cup twice. He actually played Stags rugby at age 15; graduating quickly up to the 1st team where he played 350 games over 14 seasons. If he keeps it up his name should appear on our Honours’ board for 500 senior matches.
The best player he’s ever played with was Dave Cusani during his 2 years with us, in Manny’s words a wonderful player and a great leader. The highlight of his career was in 2002 when he played for Cheshire in the County Championship final on the hallowed turf at Twickenham with fellow Macclesfield men Jeremy Bostock, Scott Goodfellow and ‘Fred’ Taylor.
He had two seasons at West Park St Helens and was again Captain, playing with ex England international Nigel Heslop and a few other ex Orrell men. It was an eye-opener within the heart of the rugby league code; Steve said their attitude and professionalism was way out in front of the rest of rugby union’s at the time.
Moving back to Macclesfield he was invited by player/teachers at Kings School, Mark Harboard and Tony Brown to coach their forwards, this was an introduction to coaching which he loves so much he’s taken these skills into our neighbouring clubs.
Living now in Bramhall his sons have joined their local side Stockport who tempted Mannion to coach their juniors, he says it also helps his fitness levels. Then Wilmslow invited him to become their player-coach and he moved there for two seasons. He’s happy to copy the methods of Steve Rule who he says is the best coach he’s ever played for whilst the best captain was fellow prop Matt Harding who skippered a very successful team full of characters into a promotion-winning side.
He loves touring and has been on the last six social tours, he’s hoping in spite of the virus, that this year’s tour to Majorca won’t be cancelled. In the meantime keeping up the plumbing business, such a physical job really helps with his strength, fitness and agility.
Manny is the father of five; ages 5 to 28, and his ambition is to play alongside his youngest son in senior rugby, so that’s another 13 more seasons!