Macclesfield 51 – Sandal 32
By David Wilkinson
Our last coming together was to be the last game before the ravages of Covid, in what became a seminal game for the Macclesfield players; a very muddy pitch played into the hands of Sandal’s big set of forwards, who played a tight, controlled game. The loss would keep us in North Premier for at least another season. Many lessons were learned from the game of February 2020 and Andy Appleyard made sure that the players were well aware of the potential threat. That said, the balmy conditions and make-up of the two teams would create a completely different contest.
Macclesfield made a few changes from the York game, bringing in Phil Laing to replace the, in my opinion, cruelly red-carded James Oliver; Alex Davies shuffling to 10 to replace his brother and the backline being shuffled to accommodate the long awaited return of Harry Blackwell. The Sandal team was still WIP minutes before kick-off.
Try number one for Josh Redfern
The game started with real pace, with less than two minutes on the clock Jordon Simpson created a gap in midfield, before drawing the last defender for Josh Redfern to score under the sticks. Macclesfield had most of the possession and pressure, choosing to take scrum penalties, where they had complete dominance; and it was from one of these scrums that Redfern scored again, from a push-over try after 16 minutes.
Sandal are pushed over the line for Sam Moss to score
The Macc pack was now in a bullying mood, phase after phase they drove Sandal back, but were held-up over the line. The forwards went into a huddle, and could have been caught-out, as the restart was a goal-line dropout; however they quickly returned to where they left off, after Sandal’s number 7 was sent to the Bin; the red zone maul giving the opportunity for Captain Sam Moss to make it 19-0.
The tables were turned, for Sandal to then spend a protracted period in the Macclesfield red-zone, although they were repulsed several times, Sandal’s Scrum Half eventually darted over to score. It took Macclesfield a mere 15 seconds to score from the restart, Jordon Simpson crashing through the tackles from 10 metres out. Sadly Simpson’s excellence on the ball would not last much longer, a shoulder injury finishing his day just before half-time, replaced by Tom Brand with the score at 26-5 and a try bonus in the bag.
Oscar Ransom, Freddie Bartle and Lucas Tweats, received their Blue Laces, from Chairman Stephen Branch
During half time Oscar Ransom, Freddie Bartle and Lucas Tweats, received their Blue Laces, from Chairman Stephen Branch, for consistently demonstrating the core values of the Club.
Myles Hall back to flying down the wing and scoring
The second half started with a penalty for Sandal to take it to 26-8, but Myles Hall, enjoying life back on the wing, scored Macclesfield’s fifth try to make it 31-8. Sandal worked their way into Macclesfield’s 22 and the Sandal big number 5 crashed through to score. At 31-13 there seemed no reason to panic, but there was a loss of concentration and Sandal intercepted a pass, to then release a player on the wing to score, 31 – 20.
Brendan Berry was carded after the Sandal 6 ducked the tackle, and within a minute Sandal had created a two man overlap which they finished off equally clinically as the previous score, it was now 31 – 25. It was game on. After a penalty by Alex Davies, the Macclesfield forwards got themselves back into an attacking position and after some very good driving play released the backs with Alex Davies finishing off the move; Davies converted his try to widen the gap to 41 – 25. But almost immediately Sandal got back into the home team’s 22, and from a scrum their Inside Centre got a good angle to beat his would-be tackler on the inside; at 41 – 32 it was definitely game-back-on.
James Hampson goes over for Macclesfield’s eighth try
The rotation of Macclesfield’s props had worked well, winning a scrum against the head, rarer than hen’s-teeth these days. Macclesfield were back to their previous best with Sam Moss going over again from close quarters. From the re-start the Macclesfield forwards put together an excellent series of offloads, and once into the Sandal attacking zone, the backs were released with James Hampson beating several defenders to score wide-out; this would be the final score to a very good game of rugby.
It had been a very competitive game of rugby, and nothing like the game of February 2020. On the whole Macclesfield were in control, but when the door was ajar Sandal were able to push it wide open, scoring 3 tries through their backs, that will worry the defence coaching team. That said there were some massive positive performances, Alex Davies did an excellent job converting to 10 and Harry Blackwell and Tom Brand looked very sharp on their returns, and in Harding and DeGroot we have a powerhouse in the row. It looks like Jordon Simpson could be out for a while with his shoulder injury, but some good news on the horizon is that big Billy Robinson continues his road back from injury, to add some extra muscle to the squad, after a successful run-out with the thirds.
Andy Appleyard was pleased with the 51 points but not with how we dealt with the momentum shift in the second half. No doubt our erstwhile Analyst Matt Coleridge will be pouring over the game video to highlight the learning.
Next week we travel to Durham to face Billingham, who share sixth spot with us. A win could catapult the team into fourth position as Blackburn and Lymm face Preston Grasshoppers and Otley. But getting past Billingham on their 3G pitch will be a challenge, Peter Evans their DOR and Captain knows how to pull the strings from 10. But if the lads can replicate all the good bits from Saturday they should do well.
Next week sees an even scarier three nights of the Priory Park Horror, with the actors from MADS. Last year was a huge success, people still talking about the frights! This year The Witch’s Curse features several new scare zones including Hangman’s Hollow, The Darkness and The Witch’s Coven. Tickets for Wednesday 27th, Friday 29th and Halloween Sunday are available via the Club website.
Macclesfield 3s 74 – Bowdon 2s 5
After Bowdon’s third team had taken a hammering from Macclesfield’s fourth team, the previous week, Bowdon 2s must have known the cards were on the table. Simon Grant reports on how the game unfolded.
On a still autumn afternoon, Macclesfield’s 3rd XV continued their unbeaten start to the season with a resounding win against a spirited second XV from Bowden.
With a squad of 18 players available on the day, the game started at a brisk pace and the replacements on the touchline were quickly called into action, as Harry Grant at Scrum Half went off injured with a nasty twisted ankle, only 5 minutes into the game.
Danny Briggs stood in at 9 for the remainder of the game and was outstanding throughout, with his accurate passing off either hand and darting runs, causing panic within the Bowdon defence at every attacking opportunity.
Skipper for the day Sam Jones, on loan from the second team, scored the first of his two tries within 8 minutes of the start, and led by example throughout the afternoon.
The Macclesfield forwards were dominant all afternoon, with the power of Billy Robinson (making his comeback after a long absence due to a knee injury) Calum Wright & Ben Hadfield, amongst others, worked hard to create a solid foundation for the back-line to score 5 tries between them with Sam Bancroft and Dave Kirk both scoring a brace, and Alex Jakubowski with the other, after an excellent solo effort.
It was great to see Jake Underwood returning to the game after a couple of years’ absence, he made his presence felt with some crunching tackles. There were many good performances all over the park, Louis Gray was excellent again and shows that his all-round game allows him to slot anywhere into the back line, Pat Ellis although having lost so much weight with his Marathon training, over the last few months, made his presence felt in both attack and defence.
But man of the match was Tom Leicester who again was so impressive at fly half with an all-round display that he should be very proud of.
It shows the power of the Macc forwards when you take into consideration they scored the lion’s share of the points, with Sam Jones & Ross Turner each scoring twice, Chris Efflengheim and Billy Robinson making up the other scorers.
The Macclesfield 3rd team have an away game against the Manchester 2nd team next week, who themselves are looking to battle their way up through the leagues, after some time in the wilderness.
It is so encouraging to watch this Macclesfield 3rd team play with more and more confidence each week, as a developing squad, even more heartening when you see that 11 of the 15 players that started yesterday’s match came up through the Macclesfield Junior and Colts section from over the last few year.
Simon Grant’s third team now find themselves in the top spot, which is great, but also a concern, whilst it’s a long way off, promotion may present an unwanted challenge – a great position to be in!
Macclesfield 4ths 39 – Congleton 2nds 22
Fourths win again
The Priory Park side scored seven tries, whilst gaining the bragging rights over their near neighbours. There exists plenty of friendly antagonism between the two, as many members on both sides have historically turned out for the opposition.
The Fourth team started off showing early intentions with tries in the first ten minutes by No 8 Matt Bowden and the ever youthful Jim Curtis. Wonderful to see Jim, loosing no appetite for the fray and in his seventh decade his experience is a huge asset!
Star of the show this week was Glenn Close who helped himself to a hat-trick of tries; he had hoped to add to those, until Captain Jeremy Bostock substituted him for Rick Hogg to give those on the bench some game time. Actually the skipper had the luxury of a strong set of replacements, Dominic McCarthy, Bill Latham, Bostock himself, and a welcome return from injury of Rupert Dixon.
Once again the foundation for the win was laid by a powerful pack of forwards: Mike Broadbent, Mike Dale and John Poyser in a dominant front row. This trio was so forceful they even hooked three of Congleton’s scrum feeds which under the modern method of allowing the ball to be fed into the second row, to steal strikes against the head, really illustrates mastery of the formal restart.
Tries by McCarthy and Craig Price were converted by Ollie Wilson; who is a brilliant addition, because he loves nothing better than running the ball back to the opposition, possessing both speed and elusiveness as well as a strong kicking game.
Both centres Pete Hardwick and Paul Smith caught the eye. They attacked with flair, opening up channels for passing movements all afternoon, added to which their defensive patterns were highly destructive when Congleton tried to break through.
Next week they travel over to Hope Valley, in the Peak District, who are unbeaten this season sitting top of the division. Of concern to captain Bostock and his players will be discipline, three different men were yellow carded, meaning they were down to 14 on the pitch for a total of 30 minutes. However in all games there will be periods when the possession is going towards the opposition; but during these periods the squad’s defensive organisation was good enough not to concede tries.
MRUFC Jnr Colts v Oswestry Colts (Friendly)
A shaky start from Macc, as it seemed the lads were taking time to wake-up, led to a first attack from Oswestry into the Macc red zone. It should have been a try; however a fumble from Oswestry gave Macc a let-off, and kicking to escape.
The lineout won, Macc woke up and a first score by Pierce Thomson, converted by Finlay Usher put them on the front foot. From that point Macc dominated the game, whilst both sides suffered from handling errors, Macclesfield Colts managed to capitalise on mistakes from the opposition, scoring 2 more, in quick succession.
Late in the first half, Oswestry broke the Macc defence, moving the ball with quick hands and finally were rewarded with a try in the corner. The conversion attempt was well struck only to be cruelly blocked by the uprights, leaving the score 38-5 at half time.
The second half started well for Macclesfield, with the ball coming fast from the base of a ruck to winger Charlie Hogg, who carried 80m into the opposition 10m before being caught. He kept his composure, and with great support from Haydn Keogh and Finlay Usher, Macc scored a well worked try.
No subs were available to either side, due to availability, and tired legs started to take their toll. Oswestry lost a player due to an ankle twist, so both teams dropped to 14 players, keeping the sides even.
Comfortable win for the Colts
Colts rugby is all about player development, and with the game being very one sided all agreed to call it game-over on 60 minutes; the final score 60 – 5 to Macclesfield.