By David Wilkinson

It was November 2019 that Billingham last visited Priory Park, for what turned out to be a keenly contested game. Billingham were sitting top of the table and Macclesfield were lying third. The visitors had not been beaten for 10 games and the hosts were unbeaten for 5 and not at home all season. I recall the atmosphere being electric at kick-off, the stand was packed and the Priory Park faithful were ready for the contest; sadly the support was quickly to be silenced.

Billingham benefit from a rare talent at this level, their Captain and Coach, Peter Evans, is a player that has always looked capable of playing at a much higher standard than the 5th tier; and he immediately demonstrated his influence on the game, twice setting up his backline to score within the first 15 minutes.

Sam Broster scores against Billingham on their last visit to Priory Park

On the day Macclesfield were more than capable of taking their scalp, the scrum was dominant, being awarded a penalty try after repeated infringements and Sam Broster scored a cracker. But once again Evans pulled-the-strings with a cut-out pass for their left winger to score. It still looked like Macclesfield would win, but for the last 15 minutes Billingham pressed the defensive line deep, restricting the home side to play rugby in their half of the field. It had been clinical, but still a very good game of rugby.

The game at Billingham earlier this season, was a fairly similar story, with Macclesfield playing some very good rugby but being undone tactically. At home, on their 3G pitch Billingham are very difficult to beat, but back at Macc on Saturday, Head Coach, Andy Appleyard will be expecting a much leveller playing field. I spoke to him about the potential team and the player prospects: “With regard to Billy (Robinson), it’s very much down to him, how he’s feeling now (after his rib cartilage injury against Preston Grasshoppers), Aaron Wilman is now back training, so again we’ll be looking at him during the week. Harry Blackwell, will probably still be on the injured list. The team is looking a lot stronger though now, Harry Harding is back, with no problems, and Josh DeGroot will have had some extra time for his niggling injuries to recover”.

Josh Redfern scoring against Billingham

Talking to Andy about the previous two games against Billingham, he was in agreement, of the influence that Peter Evans brings to their game: “Besides anything else, he has a very good, cultured boot; he knows when to kick, how to kick the ball, and where to kick it – he always finds grass. We will certainly be looking at how we can best counter that, during this week’s sessions; that said, we won’t be worrying too much about how they might play, but concentrating on our own game. We will have Clive Griffiths back this week, coaching defence, and also Lineout Coach Chris Jones. We got our defence sorted before Christmas and since then the attacking play has really come on, which we will now push on”.

Whilst the team is far from 100%, with regard to its potential team selection, it is probably as strong as it has been all season. Expectation will be rightly high on Saturday for a win, helped as always by the Priory Park faithful.

Come and join in the fun pre-match for the BIG PIE, BIG GAME, 6 NATIONS’ LUNCH, booking via the website. The Mini & Junior section will also be in attendance with a cycling machine relay to Twickenham. They are hoping to raise c.£750 on the day to take our fundraising for Motor Nuerone Disease over £10,000, please give generously.


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