Macclesfied 21 – Lymm 26

By David Wilkinson


The day would be tinged with sadness, as everyone gathered to say farewell to Barry Jones, who had been the Club’s longest serving member: a life-long, player, executive and supporter, and proud to be an Honorary Life Member. A minute’s applause for his memory preceded the game.

It couldn’t have started better for Lymm, Macclesfield threw long at a lineout, which even though into a strong headwind went over the jumpers and was gathered by Lymm. A speculative kick over the top eventually bounced back to Lymm and fed to Ex Samoan international Johnny Leota; he took it on attracting 3 defenders, which was sufficient for their outside half to take the ball on into the red-zone where he fed no. 15 Cormac Nolan to score, and converting his own try.

Besides the stiff crosswind the conditions were good for running rugby, the pitch had had time to dried-out during the previous two days. Play was very competitive, with few mistakes, until Lymm conceded a penalty for a high tackle on the darting Dan Martin. It was a long way out but Harry Oliver judged the wind and the flags went up, 3 – 7 after 14 minutes.

Lymm took the ball into Macclesfield’s 22 after the restart, but Macc defended well, won the ball back and worked their way to halfway, Leota was penalised for not releasing and Stelmaszek’s penalty took play deep into the visitors half. After nineteen phases, it looked like Lymm’s defence might crack, but they defended well and won a penalty at the ruck to relieve pressure. Play continued briefly in Macclesfield’s half, as the Lymm 12 cleared-out at the ruck after the whistle had gone. Macclesfield were back on the attack and won themselves another kickable penalty from 30 metres out, it would be 6 – 7 after 30 minutes.

Lymm attacked from a lineout in Macclesfield’s half, with a crash ball from the tail, although the pass looked forward play continued; twice play shifted to the left, the second time of asking there was a clear overlap and Ste Pilkington had a simple run around the covering defence. In the build up to the try Captain Sam Moss went down with what was obviously a serious injury. Play would be halted for 5 minutes as the Captain was carefully stretchered off with a suspected broken ankle; news would reveal that it was in fact a broken leg above the ankle that would require a metal plate. Mossy’s injury would take it to 16, 1st team players on the injury/sick list.

Sam Stelmaszek uses his gas to get around his opposite number

Macclesfield were back on the attack, Sam Stelmaszek made good ground on the left wing before the ball was switched to the other wing, where Macclesfield won another penalty. Time was up and Harry Oliver chose to go for the posts from an acute angle, and Macclesfield went back to the Changing Rooms, 9 – 14 down. Macclesfield had probably edged it for possession and territory, without converting it into tries, whereas Lymm had made the most of their opportunities.

Harry Oliver slotting his third penalty

From the kick-off Macclesfield attacked, Tom Brand received the ball inside his own half and was brought down with the line beckoning, Macclesfield should have scored but a fumble let Lymm of the hook; the ball was cleared but Macc won another penalty but Harry Oliver couldn’t steer it accurately enough in the cross-wind.

Play was nip-and-tuck for a number of phases until a lineout was awarded to Macclesfield, with Sam Moss gone and no other experienced Hooker to call upon, it would be a first since Tom King’s schooldays, he hit the target but the ball was knocked on. From the scrum Leota was missed out giving extra space for the Lymm Outside Centre who took play into the Red-Zone. Macclesfield’s defence held and a turnover relieved the pressure. The scrums had been a much more even affair, since the earlier game in the season; Gavin Woods, a previous Macclesfield player, and Nick Ashton at Tight Head had shorn-up the Lymm’s scrummage, and for the first time they got a bit of a shove on against a changed again Macclesfield pack. James Oliver had turned his ankle on Thursday and Elliot Alston, took sick on Friday; Matt Harrison and Sam Jones were drafted in.

From a scrum wide out on the left, the experienced Lymm 10, Tom Shard, had no-doubt spotted Macclesfield defensive line-up that was lined up, man-for-man marking, with the Lymm Full Back in the line, Shard chipped the ball perfectly to the unmarked Left Wing out wide, who took it cleanly at pace; his angle against last-man Myles Hall made for an easy step inside. Although Mylo chased him down to get an ankle-tap 5 metres out, his rolling momentum was sufficient to get him over the line.

Macclesfield went back on the attack and put together a series of good pick-and-go phases; with Josh Redfern taking it into the 22. Sam Stelmaszek now at 9 had joined the ruck and no one stepped up to secure the ball, leaving a gift for Lymm to pick-and-go themselves, the ball was quickly shifted to the backs, Pilkington immediately broke the line who fed the speedy Nathan Beesley to score their bonus point try 9 – 26.

Josh Redfern goes over but is held up – no try!

Macclesfield again attacked deep into Lymm territory and from a good driving maul Stemaszek sniped, feeding the supporting forwards, “try-time” surely, but the ball was fumbled and went dead. Shard kicked wide again, for what would have been a two man overlap but the ball went gratefully into touch. Macc were back on the attack, Lymm were penalised then marched back, leaving a would-be simple kick for Harry Oliver, but with 15 minutes left on the clock and 15 points behind the ball was kicked to the corner. Although the debutant Hooker, Tom King over-threw at the lineout, the ball was secured and Macclesfield went through a series of rucks to go within a metre of the line. Lymm’s 15 had come around the ruck playing-the-nine, and when the move came to nothing, Macc called for a scrum. Josh Redfern switched back to his usual no. 8 position, picked-up at the base and was over the line, but deemed to be held-up – it was one of those days.

Phil Laing beats Gavin Woods on a barn-storming charge

From the goal-line drop-out Macclesfield continued to press, until they lost a lineout, but Lymm’s clearance only found the hands of Lloyd Smith-Coates on the left wing, who cut inside beating two players before feeding Phil Laing who weaved his way down the middle of the Park before shipping the ball to Pete Milne, who pirouetted over the line to score. Harry Oliver judged the wind perfectly and it was now getting interesting at 16 – 26 with 8 minutes left on the clock.

Pete Milne going over for Macc’s first try

Macclesfield were now looking very lively, Lymm were doing everything to stem-the-tide, losing a player for the remainder of the contest for handling on the ground. Sam Stelmaszek was doing everything he could to keep the tempo high, taking quick taps; Lymm were then lucky not to have another player sent to the Sin Bin for a high tackle. Again Stelmo tapped and after a few phases he passed to an eager Lloyd Smith-Coates on the wing who brushed passed the first would-be tackler, handing-off the second at full pace for a run to the line in the corner. The conversion was missed but with a few minutes to play at 21 – 26 there was a slim chance for a win.

Lloyd Smith-Coates makes no mistakes to score after demolishing would-be tacklers

From the restart Lymm kicked deep, but with the clock against them, Macclesfield’s only option was to try to run it out from deep. They eventually made it to halfway, but their eagerness not to give up possession was penalised and Lymm were able to finish-off the proceedings. Lymm had bagged all five points and Macclesfield were left with a hard-fought losing bonus point. Even with all of the disruptions to the Macclesfield team it was a game that should and could have been won. Macclesfield had certainly made enough chances, but they fluffed their lines at the crucial moment; in contrast Lymm had only created 5 real opportunities but had taken four of them. Besides the loss all of the players had put in a good shift, Sam Stelmaszek was looking to be getting back to his best, pulling the strings and making breaks; MOTM Pete Milne must have had some worries before kick-off knowing he was up against an ex Samoan International, but there was certainly no stage fright, he always made ground, was solid in defence and finished it off with a try.

It has been a cruel season, so far for Macclesfield; the injury list has affected selection from the get-go; and it has got worse and worse, cascading down through the other teams. It is certainly not a fitness issue; the squad prides itself on its fitness, it can only be put down to bad luck, which was certainly the case for acting Captain Sam Moss on Saturday; as it was for Captain Tom Morton in the second game of the season. Tom is now waiting for a second operation where a longer metal plate will be attached to his arm.

Head Coach, Andy Appleyard, was somewhat phlegmatic about the outcome: “I don’t want it to necessarily sound like an excuse but the constant injuries do affect the game and how we play; and to top the already difficult situation we lost Elliot Alston on Saturday morning to a bug. The disruptions seem to affect us badly at the start of games, and again we went a score down. That said, we created the chances in the first half to score but just failed to finish them off. When we lost Sam Moss we talked at half time about our game plan, we don’t want set pieces, the lineout was probably going to be problem and we weren’t bossing the scrum. The plan was to play at a high intensity and keep the ball alive. Although we let them in again, when we raised the tempo again taking quick taps the better we looked, and I’m sure if we had another 5 minutes we would have won”.

They may have lost but there are other things to smile about

Andy had told me the previous week that he had looked at Blackburn’s team which had been virtually the same for four weeks, their consistency could be seen in the way they played, a well rehearsed plan that they stuck to. Hopefully Macclesfield’s disruption will end, and that they can field a consistent team for the remaining games. Next up is coach ride up to Kirkby Lonsdale, in their delightful Cumbrian location. Kirkby will have a tough week getting over their mauling of a rampant Preston Grasshoppers 99 – 0. The following week Macclesfield entertains Anselmians in the Quarter final of the Cheshire Cup; a win will be rewarded with Revenge Part II v Lymm.

Both the 2nd and 3rd team were short of players through the injury crisis and unavailability, the second team lost yet another player with a broken foot, going down 79 – 35 away at Lymm. The 3rd team also went down 25 – 46 to a Warrington 2nd XV – come on you semi-retired guys, time to get your boots back on!


The MaccRugbyTV cameras were at pre season training with the 1st XV again this week and we caught up with the currently injured Tom Jennings. Many thanks to East Cheshire Pressure Washing for sponsoring Tom again this season. #macclesfield #rugby #local #community #rugbyfamily #Nat2West National League Rugby ... See MoreSee Less
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The Macclesfield 2ndXV is in safe hands with Russ Tomlinson taking the reins for a 3rd year, as he looks to build on the success of the last 2 campaigns!! Russ is vital to developing our squad and nurturing the lads coming through the pathway.Isaac makes the big step into coaching as 2nd XV player coach and will provide valuable insight to the players using his extensive experience.Ollie church joined last season from Sheffield tigers having previously been with Hartpury college and brings valuable experience from National 2 North to the side while looking to break into the 1s team!Good luck to all 3 this season 👍🏉 ... See MoreSee Less
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