Macclesfield v Sheffield Tigers
By David Wilkinson
Rugby, by its very nature, defies the expressions of ‘Friendly’ and ‘Practice-Match’; the format might be different, in this case four twenty-minute periods, but nothing was held back in the intensity and ferocity of the play. Dual code international player and Coach, Clive Griffiths, was on hand during the warm-up and watching the game, to check on the boys’ progress, after his defence sessions with the squad and coaching team. ‘Griff’ was happy with what he saw and is now looking to get involved again with Head Coach Andy Appleyard when the squad starts its pre-season sessions.
It was all Macclesfield to start with, multiple phases required stern defence from Sheffield Tigers to keep the home side out. On nine minutes a speculative punt from a free-kick into the Macc half, saw captain Tom Morton feed young Sam Brown on the left touchline. A gesticulated point toward the Tigers’ try-line was enough direction from the Skipper, for the young speedster to put on the gas, rounding the first defender before beating the cover, then dropping his shoulder to go on the outside, before cutting back inside to score an un-molested 50-yard dash for the first score. The lead, however, was to be short-lived – in the extreme! From the re-start Macclesfield was stripped of the ball in the tackle, leaving a hop-skip-and-a-jump for the Tigers no.4 to score the easiest of tries.
Tigers were to go further ahead after Macc had secured a 5-metre line-out; the ball being knocked out of Sam Stelmaszek’s hands for the simplest of scores. The Tigers scored again before the end of the first quarter with a well-crafted try under the posts. Jamie Broadley ran a dummy-scissors line from 13, with his 12 scissorings with the 10 before passing back to the looping 10 to go over. The 7-19 score-line was flattering for the Tigers.
The rub-of-the-green would continue in Tigers’ favour, as a grubber-kick appeared to be grounded by Macc 15, Will Davies, although the Referee and Touch Judge saw it differently; there was much dispute from the on-looking diners, even from the man and his dog on the mound. Macclesfield scored next, a deft chip from Morton was collected by one of the speedy youngsters who fed inside for James Oliver to score. After some concerted attacks in the Macclesfield 22 some miss-marking out wide gave space for the Sheffield wing to chip ahead, the bouncing ball was fumbled for a score by Tigers’ classy wing.
In the next quarter, Macclesfield had their own period of pressure resulting in a long cut-out pass finding Harry Oliver, who made it look easy, beating 3 players to score. The last session saw both sides go close, but neither changed the scoreboard. The game ended prematurely as Harry Oliver was heavily tackled, with his feet unstable, the referee had heard a crack, and this was confirmed later at Macclesfield hospital as a broken ankle. Harry had put in a big shift, and it was a sorry end to the game, we wish him well in his recovery.
The final score of 19-33 was somewhat flattering to Sheffield Tigers as they were gifted two tries and the third was highly debatable. It was obvious that both sides struggled with the Return2Rugby adopted laws, which led to some confusion, and plenty of free kicks. Overall, Andy Appleyard was
pleased with the performances. The young lads moving up from the Colts acquitted themselves well in their first steps into Senior Rugby, it is a big jump-up in both intensity and physicality, but all part of the pathway. Sam Brown showed real pace and guile; and will become a real handful as he matures. The squad are now released, to relax for four weeks, before returning in time for the Macclesfield 7s in July. We hope that by then the Government will have changed their recent decision in allowing the RFU to move to full-contact scrums and mauls.
Weekend’s Rugby Round-up
There were Friday-night fun and games at the Rec, as Bristol entertained a rampant Sale Sharks side, getting ever closer to securing a trip to Twickenham. It was 17 a-piece at half-time but once again Karl Dickson would be showing yellow to Sharks players. Alex Sanderson was biting his fingernails again, as Sale were reduced to 13, although they only gave away a penalty goal. Curtis Langdon was mauled over for the bonus-point try, but Sale would have to endure a further yellow card to hang on for the win 20-24. Sanderson announced that he will have Manu Tuilagi at his disposal when they take on leaders Bristol on the 28th.
Elsewhere Wasps fought back to beat Worcester with a try from Macclesfield’s Tommy Taylor and Leicester beat Harlequins. For once Marcus Smith could not perform his last-minute magic tricks after they had been reduced earlier to 13 men, followed by the punishment of Baby Rhino Ellis Genge, charging over for his second score. The remaining fixtures were put back to Monday and Tuesday where they would benefit from fans returning to the stadia.