Manchester Match Report

BELOW PAR MACC

 

Manchester 31 – Macclesfield 17

By Pete Harper

Macclesfield RUFC haven`t played Manchester at 1st XV level for 26 years, so consequently, it was with great excitement that players, officials and supporters alike arrived at Grove Park to take on our near neighbours and kick off the new season. Macc, included debutants: Louis Singleton, Charlie Attis (both new signings) together with Tom Leicester, Tom Jennings, Marcus Pyle and Harry Owens, all graduates from our Youth section in the match day squad.  We knew former Macclesfield player and Head Coach Marshall Gadd would have his team fired up for this one and so it proved as from the kick off, Macc, were under the cosh for prolonged periods of time.  It was clear Marshall had been doing his homework on the Blues lineout (he was at the cup game at Birkenhead Park last week to observe the upcoming opposition) as they targeted our main jumpers causing disruption on our throw, meaning good possession was scarce.

Manchester get’s the ball away under pressure at the scrum from Macclesfield

Resolute defence from Macclesfield ensured the home team were kept at bay, but a combination of poor exiting, turnovers and penalties meant we were always under the pump.  A lineout resulting form yet another penalty resulting in a lineout 5 metres out from Macc’s try-line and the resultant recycled ball allowed Manchester to slide through some disappointing defence, to score under the posts.  20 minutes played and 6 penalties against the visitors and none against the home side, despite the Macc pack dominating the scrum.  Yet another turnover on 26 minutes saw the Manchester no. 10 run untouched from inside his own 10 metre line, through a none existent defence and score what must go down as a `soft try`, to increase the home sides lead.  With their tails up and the majority of possession, Manchester continued to press, whilst Macc made life difficult for themselves with more turnovers and penalties conceded.  The Blues were awarded a rare penalty on 30 minutes and Harry Oliver sensibly kicked the 3 points to get Macc off the mark.  The front row of Dan Percival, Brendan Berry and James Cross were now really getting on top of the Manchester scrum and any number of penalties might have been given with a different referee, however, none were awarded causing much frustration amongst the travelling supporters.

Macclesfield about to go over the whitewash

Alston barges over for his first ever Macclesfield try

With half time approaching, a rare penalty at the breakdown was awarded to Macclesfield and following a kick to touch, the lineout was won, and the Macc pack were on the march, putting 9 phases together before being illegally stopped by a defender, who was subsequently yellow carded. Skipper James Oliver opted for the scrum against 7 forwards and Manchester’s pack can consider themselves extremely lucky not to concede a penalty try and another sin bin as they collapsed the scrum several times on their own line.  A further transgression by the defence led to a quick tap penalty by scrum half Dan Martin and Elliott Alston crashed over for his first ever try in senior rugby, Harry Oliver added the extras followed by the whistle for half time with the scores at 12 – 10 to the home side.

Tom Burden competing at the lineout

Charlie Attis came on at 10 for his league debut with Louis Singleton shifting out one to inside centre, Tom Leicester making way for the change.  Macc. started the half well and played in the opposition’s 22 before a wayward clearance kick from the home full back was fielded by Bezzer, who offloaded to Lloyd Coates.  Lloydy pinned back his ears and hurtled down the touchline, but was bundled into touch just short of the line meaning more frustration for the away side.  Another clearance kick was fielded by the speedy Sam Brown who lined up his options and chipped ahead in a race for the line, but was then clearly taken out off the ball, although the ref saw differently!

At this point, Manchester had really been under pressure since the half started, but they managed to force a turnover near the halfway line which resulted in a surging run from their powerful centre, who was only prevented from scoring by a desperate tackle from Lloyd, but the ball was quickly recycled and the home side crashed over for try number 3.  To compound matters for Macc. the referee decided Lloyd’s tackle was high and issued him a yellow card.  After concerted pressure from Macc it was 19-10 to the home side with Macc playing with 14 men, and heads visibly dropped.

Marcus Pyle came on for his debut with Elliott making way and Bezzer moving to flanker and another promising attack resulted in yet another penalty at the breakdown, won by the home sided back row. The resultant lineout led to an attack from the home sides backs and Louis Singleton was harshly yellow carded for a high tackle as the ball carrier slid down, making the job even harder for the Blues.  Yet another turnover for the home side, inside our 22 resulted in Manchester`s bonus point try as the full back made the most of the overlap caused by the lack of numbers in the home defence;  24-10 with 6 minutes to play.

Things then turned from bad to worse as directly from the re start, Manchester went coast to coast to score another converted try taking the score to an unassailable 31-10 with 3 minutes left on the clock.  However, Macclesfield had the last say as a lovely chip from Charlie Attis was gathered on the full by Harry Oliver to score under the posts, and then add the extras to end the game with a 31 – 17 score to the home team.

I`m sure the boys, the coaching staff and supporters will all be bitterly disappointed with the result, but there were definitely moments of momentum swing and decisions which perhaps didn`t go our way.

Head Coach Andy Appleyard said “Both the coaching team and players were very disappointed in our performance at Manchester.  If you don`t perform to even 50% of your potential, any opposition has a very good chance of winning. We were far from where we believe we can be. The breakdown was an issue throughout and was a negative catalyst for errors.  We (the coaching staff) have reviewed the game well and have a solid plan in place to get us back on track this week.  It`s going to be an intense week, but at this point in the season, we must keep positive but give a reaction”

There was an incident on Saturday, when 2 Manchester players collided and cracked heads with some force leaving them both out cold on the turf.  Physios from Macc. joined the Manchester physios and raced to their attention, Tom Burden, Macclesfield`s flanker and qualified physio, was also quickly on the scene to assist.  A great example of why our game is unique.  Thankfully, both players left the pitch under there own steam, and we wish them both well in their recovery.

Stripy pre-match Alikadoos and ladies

#maccrugby

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