Preston Grasshoppers 42 – Macclesfield 14

A large crowd at Cross Green was assembled to welcome Macclesfield for what was expected to be a very competitive game. Macclesfield were forced to rearrange their pack with the absence of Meek and Wilman, also introducing Will Davies for the first time this season covering for Captain Tom Morton, who is likely to be out for some time with a broken arm.

The 4G pitch suited Macclesfield’s running game and they had all of the early pressure, rewarded by a  try for Sam Moss from a lineout driving-maul; converted by Will Davies from wide out. It wasn’t long before Hoppers equalled the score; again scored by the Hooker and Captain Christian Taylor, once of Macclesfield.

Sam Moss goes over for Macclesfield’s first try

Macclesfield worked their way back deep into Preston’s half, but a quickly taken tap from a marked kick set up a ruck on the edge of their 22. It was an innocuous position, but Hoppers 13 Sam Stott ran from deep to take a crash-ball at pace, which took him through a gap in the defensive line and the rest of the field to run into, in full-flight he rounded Myles Hall to score.

At the next scrum, Dan Percival and the Macclesfield supporters seemed nonplussed as he was yellow-carded for the angle of his pushing (going backwards). The Macclesfield scrum had been under pressure from the off, now with a player down, it was sure to get worse. Hoppers were given a scrum 5 metres out after an injury stopped the game, the veteran Matt Lamprey picked up from the base and from the recycled ball the Preston number 4 Luke Proctor charged over from a few metres out; the score was 21 – 7 at half-time.

The second half started badly for Macclesfield, a tackle on the shoulder gave Hoppers another penalty and from the lineout Sam Stott crashed through again, bouncing the first-up tackler and his pace evading the cover defence to score his second. The game ebbed and flowed until the 50th minute, a scrum for Macclesfield between there twenty-two and 10-metre lines created an opportunity out of nothing. Once again Macclesfield were being driven backwards, at-a-rate-of-knots, Josh Redfern just managed to scramble the ball back to Alex Davies, who spotted that the on-rushing Hoppers defensive line had left a gap. Not needing a second invitation, he was through it in a flash, feeding his big-brother Will, just inside the Hoppers half who sprinted, unmolested, to score and convert his own try.

Will Davies going over for Macc’s second

Preston fought their way into the Macclesfield half and another penalty for a high-tackle put them in a scoring position, the ball was fed to Lamprey and his strength and experience showed as he brushed-off the tackler to charge over – 35-14.

From the restart the hosts worked their way into the Macclesfield half and consecutive penalties again put them in striking distance. Number 10 Pearson lined up two Macclesfield forwards and had no problem taking advantage of the yawning gap between them, going in under the posts. From the restart Phil Laing was yellow carded for a tackle in the air and once again Macclesfield were reduced to 14.

Macclesfield had one last series of attacks, but eventually got turned over close to Hoppers line; play finished in the visitor’s 22 but not before Macc were again reduced to 14, Tom Burden leaving the field after interfering with play.

Analyst, Matt Coleridge, won’t have to dig too deep this week to see where it all went wrong, it was plain to see. Macclesfield had been competitive until the first yellow card before half time, but reduced to 14 their already underpowered scrum was under extreme pressure thereafter; tackling and discipline also added to the high penalty count. It may be psychological, playing on a plastic-pitch, but proper tackle technique seemed to have deserted a number of would-be tacklers on Saturday. Head Coach Andy Appleyard had this to say: “It was another wake-up call, and York next week won’t be easy, they are a good side and we will need to re-group and get back to our best. We are hoping to have a number of boys back in the mix for selection this week; and I’m confident that this group of players is good enough to take us back to National Two”.

Supporters will have been pleased to see Big Billy Robinson ‘running’ on-and-off the pitch as a Water-boy on Saturday. His eventual return will be a big missing piece in Andy’s jigsaw, with Tom Morton out for some time, the 10 shirt will need filling, Will Davies did an excellent job on Saturday and with his brother Alex, we will have to wait and see if their University rugby careers can be delayed another week.

This Saturday brings newly promoted York to Priory Park for the first time. They sit in equal fifth place with Macclesfield after a big win over Rossendale. The Club welcomes ex England captain Dylan Hartley, as a special guest on Saturday to Peter Harper’s President’s Lunch – a sell-out, naturally. Tim Peakman will be taking over from yours truly at the Club – I’m off to Scotland, ‘In Search of Salmo’! Look out for two big events coming up in Halloween week: The Priory Park Horror and Oktoberfest.

Zach Wood playing for Macclesfield U12s in the Stockport Festival

33 of the U12s made up 3 teams to represent Macclesfield at Stockport’s Rugby Festival on Saturday. The boys did the Club proud winning 13 of the 15 games that they played. Feedback from the Festival was that many of the clubs that used to match Macclesfield, have considerably reduced in their number of players during COVID; in contrast the Mini and Junior section at MRUFC has flourished at Priory Park. It bodes well for the ‘home-grown’ future!

Macclesfield 2nd XV v Preston Grasshoppers 2nd XV

Macclesfield 2s scoring against Preston

Phil Mason reports: The 2nd XV hosted Hoppers 2nd XV on Saturday in what was always going to be a tough encounter.  The 2nd XV has not had a win to date, however this was not showing as they ran out onto the pitch.

Taking the kick-off Macc started confidently, winning the ball in Preston’s half and pushing hard.  However it wasn’t to be and an early penalty put the ball into the Macc 22 and gave Preston the first score of the game.

A trying first half for Macclesfield seemingly unable to capitalise on opportunities, however a penalty slotted nicely by Tom Jennings got the score board rolling for Macclesfield.  A further couple of tries each with conversions by Preston, and misses by Macclesfield including a cruel bounce off the posts left Macc trailing 13 – 21 at half time.

Macclesfield 2s scrum-down against Preston Grasshoppers

The second half saw a more determined and physical Macclesfield side emerge, taking the game to Preston and holding them to account.  Stronger in the pack Macclesfield was dominating the scrum, and had the edge in the lineout.  Worked tries were the reward, but again the conversions were not to be.

A well worked try from Macclesfield, following a fast intercept try, ran in by Preston, left the score line at 18 – 28.  It felt like a tough hill to climb, however climb it they did!  In what became a great comeback for Macclesfield, dominating the rest of the second half, the match finished 28 – 28.

Macclesfield 3s 36 –  Crewe & Nantwich 2nds 5

Captain Simon Grant reports on a good win for the 3s. On a beautiful Indian summer’s day Macclesfield 3rd team remain unbeaten and joint top of the league after a fine win against a dogged Crewe 2nd team who were also flying high in North West Division 2 South.

Although the temperatures were well into the 20’s it still took some time for Macclesfield to warm up in the first half, and a number of injuries in the first 30 minutes namely to Louis Gray, Sam Bancroft and Gareth didn’t help matters, but a sweetly taken penalty by Oli Wilson helped as Macc took the lead and calmed the nerves.

The pace of the Macclesfield back row began to show as the forwards started to take control, but a couple of rucks, with players getting isolated and stripped of the ball, along with a knock-on or two, resulted in Crewe ending up in the Macc 22, from where they scored from a catch and drive at the line out – which turned out to be their only score of the afternoon.

The Crewe score was the jolt that Macc needed to up their game with superior pace & power in the forwards, the front row of Aaron Liston, Ross Turner and Chris Effingham took a number of balls against the head, and the outstanding Back row of Callum Wright, Jonnie Thompson and George Hodgkinson really did start to impose themselves all over the park in both attack and defence, in fact Crewe never looked like scoring again. But Macc were still trailing by a score just before half time, and after some fantastic footwork from and a burst of pace sent fly half Rik Hopkins Jnr (not dissimilar to his Father Rick Hopkins Snr many years ago in the dream team) over behind the posts to be followed by the successful conversion by Wilson. Half-time Macc 10 Crewe 5.

After a few home truths during the half time team talk Macc came flying out of the blocks, Harry Grant started to take control at the break-down and putting some booming box kicks down field that put the Crewe defence under immense pressure.

The youthful exuberance of Danny Briggs & Dave Kirk was a pleasure to behold for the many people watching, and even the ever green Nick Smith put two crunching consecutive tackles in, it was all coming together nicely.

A penalty try was the next score for Macc after an excellent driving line out and outstanding work from Callum Wright. Shortly afterwards after excellent play from the forwards in setting up the platform, Rik Hopkin once more made the line-break, and sprinted over for his second score of the afternoon.

As Macc started to take complete control in all areas of the field James Keep defended a high ball in defence passed to Briggs who sent a perfect pass out to Dave Kirk in his own half, Kirk then outpaced the covering back row and then the full back to score under the posts. With Gareth coming back onto the field for the final few minutes, the effervescent back line looked to attack once more with a final push. James Keep dug deep to find the power and pace to beat the much younger covering tacklers and give a sublime pass to the supporting Ross Turner who returning from injury, deserved his score right under the posts. Strangely Chris Gleave decided to hit the post rather than dissect them but possibly understandable after an energy sapping performance on such a warm afternoon.

We must thank Matt Price for stepping up from the 4th team to cover for the injuries at the last minute and a cameo roll from Simon Street who stepped in for a couple of scrums and a lineout.

Man of the match Jonnie Thomson was fully justified in winning his extra beer token and a big thanks to Sam Bancroft who sat out the whole match bar 5 minutes, but came along at the final whistle with two jugs of ale for the winning team.

Next week the 3s are away against Broughton Park 2s in the top of the table clash, should be a good game as someone will look to continue the season unbeaten.

Macclesfield 4th XV 20 – Bury 2nd XV 17

Terry Robson reports: Captain Jeremy Bostock was delighted with the entire squad after this victory.  He was able to field a full 15 with five players on the substitutes bench, with young Jamie Downes, the star of last week acting as water carrier.

Turning out were a few who were reviving their rugby careers, Andrew Foster at scrum half played the full 80 minutes after a serious knee problem had left him wondering whether his career was over, Matthew Burton, Tim Kerr and Fergus Green all four playing their first match for two years, injures and other activities having taken them out of the fold – they all showed their fair and pace had not deserted them.

Bostock nicknamed these, along with Jim Curtis, the old guard when he welcomed them back but also there were some from the usual squad who are now at 50 years of age: Nick Smith, Simon Street and Geoff Chan, plus others also fast approaching: Paul Smith, Jim Welch and Pete McNicholas.

The conditions  were ideal for fast open running rugby, with Pete Hardwick, Ryan Brown and full back Phil Humphreys they wasted no opportunity to fully stretch their legs and show off their pace.  The first try scored by Fergus Green acting as ball carrier at the rear of a rolling maul he steered towards the try line like a ship’s captain at the helm before triumphantly popping the ball over the white line.

Then the backs took their chances, first full back Humphreys then winger John Plant bursting away on runs with ball in hand to stitch up the try count.  Ryan Brown converted one and was successful with a penalty, this kick was important as it was eventually the difference between the teams.

Macclesfield’s dominance of the scrums caused Bury to request unopposed scrums for most of the match.  Debutant Mike Broadbent and Burton demonstrating their scrummaging techniques whilst Matt Price and Simon Street in the back row used power and game management to the side’s huge advantage.

In the post match huddle Jeremy thanked everyone, old guard, newcomers, Rick Hogg and Simon Carter (unused subs). He stated this had been a massive victory with so many positives to build upon.  Bostock is actually due a huge hand of appreciation from the team for his tireless work to pull together the side ready to take the field.

Next week’s opposition will be Toc H Didsbury, everyone will be raring to get out there and seek another win.


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