MORE PAIN FOR MACCLESFIELD

Rossendale 69 – Macclesfield 22

By David Wilkinson

Macclesfield had never beaten Rossendale at Mari Pits, although on the previous two occasions, they should have done; by half-time on Saturday Rossendale were still the likely winners. Rossendale had gone through considerable change during the close-season, their pitch, facilities and importantly personnel. South African, Sale Sharks Centre, Byron McGuigan, joined the club as Head Coach; and Matt Lamprey was also attracted to Rossendale from Preston Grasshoppers, along with 5 of his team mates. The result is a much improved squad for the Lancashire side. In contrast Macclesfield lost some of their most seasoned players during the close-season, and for a variety of reasons failed to recruit to the standard that they would have hoped; the result is a squad that is both young and lacking in the depth of experience to be able to compete effectively at this level – at the moment. This is compounded by an injury list that continues to grow. Whilst there are plans to strengthen the squad, it is a difficult proposition at this stage in the season; no doubt all concerned will be hard on the lookout.

Matt Lamprey demonstrates his power on his way to the line

The match was the first under the stewardship of new Head Coach, Ben Wade and Darren Lamon; previous Head Coach, Andy Appleyard having stepped down, and now fully concentrating on his role as General Manager. Ben, Darren and Russ Tomlinson, had had two sessions with the boys prior to Saturday, to refocus the players for the challenge ahead; Fly Half Charlie Attis straining a groin on the Thursday training session, couldn’t have helped. Brendan Berry then pulled out before the kick-off, which meant there was no alternative other than for Ben Wade to put his boots back-on, to fill-in on the bench. Macclesfield played up the slope in the first half, and whilst they soaked up the pressure, it was telling, however they did score first, with a penalty from Harry Oliver. There would have been no prizes to guess who would be first to get over the white-wash. Matt Lamprey, previously of Fylde, Sedgley Park and Preston Grasshoppers, is both a dominant force with ball in hand, as well as creating opportunities around him. Typically he burst through several would-be tacklers for the first score, and to set the tone for the match.

Harry Blackwell five against one

All Rossendale’s success was coming through attacks down the middle of the pitch, breaking tackles and keeping the ball alive through deft off-loads; three more tries and a penalty came their way before half-time. Macclesfield pulled one back before the whistle, scored out-wide by the electric Sam Brown, although any celebration would have been muted, with the sight of Captain James Oliver having to leave the fray with a pulled hamstring. The injury meant that Head Coach, Ben Wade, would step in at 8, whilst not uncommon for him, not something particularly recommended at 48 years of age, probably a record at Macclesfield; it was 24 – 8 at half-time.

Danny Martin clearing the lines

Rossendale continued to attack up the middle with two more tries before Macclesfield pulled one back through Sam Broster, the score now 43 – 15. The same pattern continued, Macclesfield getting their third try from Danny Martin. Rossendale would finish the contest with two further tries – 5 points to nil. Macclesfield had played enough rugby to win a bonus point, had they not butchered a few opportunities with forward/delayed passes.

Macclesfield had also lost Sam Jones and Harry Harding to injuries during the game, with wing Sam Broster having to go into the back-row to cover, the changes would have been particularly disruptive to the back-row. Head Coach, Ben Wade, had this to say about the team’s efforts: “There was certainly an improvement in the way the boys played, they never gave up. We were always strong in the scrum and did much better in the lineout. They never got around us out wide, but we struggled to contain their support play up the middle of the park. Some of this was set up by us kicking long, which went better for us when we kept it short”.

The medical team will have their work-cut-out, patching up the players during the week for the next challenge facing them, against newly promoted Sandbach at Priory Park, next week. Sandbach went down at home to Lymm on Saturday 18 – 31, and now sit 6th in the table. They will need little motivation on their first visit to Priory Park for a long time, and keen to challenge for the first local bragging-rites. Get behind the boys on Saturday; they will be up for the challenge and welcome the support of the Priory Park faithful, lunch places are available, book online: https://macclesfieldrufc.co.uk/wordpress/product/macc-v-sandbach/

Elsewhere Macclesfield 2nd XV beat Rochdale 22 – 17; the 3rd XV went to Wirral in a high scoring contest winning 41 – 75; the 4th XV took on a very strong team from Sandbach going down, 5 – 71.

All photos courtesy of and copyright Paul Kilshaw Rossendale Rugby Club

 

Jacko Senior reports on the 2nd XV, so far this season

After a tough season last year which culminated in relegation from the Halbro Northwest Premier Leagues the second XV found themselves in Division 1 of the league. Selection for Russ Tomlinson has been challenging this season as he has faced call ups to the First XV, with players being unavailable, due holidays, or returning to university. However, he has managed to field competitive teams in the first three fixtures gaining three victories.

Each win has been achieved due the commitment and desire to play for each other as a group and not to yield when pressure has been applied at key points in the match.  Against Waterloo the team demonstrated a desire to move the ball quickly away from the breakdown enabling a youthful backline of Ben Bowden, Zac Bowden and Will Richardson to exploit gaps in the Waterloo defence.  Sam Jones was direct as ever and was ably supported by Ben Hadfield playing from no 8, Whilst the “Wrecking ball!” that is Carl Droy broke through the Waterloo defence frequently; although allowing Waterloo briefly back into the game in the second half the boys came out on top 36-19.

The next two matches displayed the teams’ defensive attributes firstly against a very strong and well organised Glossop XV, who’s pack caused problems at the ruck all game. The seconds didn’t help themselves by giving away too many penalties and deploying a poor kicking game. The second half was a monumental defensive effort with penalties and turn-overs won on the try line preventing Glossop from scoring. Macclesfield surviving to win 15-12. Not many teams will gain a win at Harrogate Hill this season.

Rochdale travelled to Priory Park last weekend and again this was a close encounter with Macclesfield putting in  massive defensive effort in to win 22 -17, with a number changes from the Glossop game the mantra of playing for each other and playing till you have no more was at the heart of this win. With Nick Foster only lasting 30 minutes and no subs it was a sterling effort to win a tightly balanced game with Macclesfield struggling to develop a cohesive attack. However, when Rochdale made mistakes they were pounced on by Zac Bowden and Carl Droy to score tries. Rochdale were able to get back into the game taking advantage of Macclesfield being a man down. However, they were also prepared to kick a lot of ball away which was willingly run back from Alex Jakubowski at full back. Louis Gray playing at centre had an excellent game in defence and used the little ball he got well. Jonny Thompson and Ben Hadfield continued to make ground and tackled heroically all afternoon. With 20 minutes to go and down to 13 men  with  a player in the sin bin it looked like Rochdale would push on to win. However, the late arrival of Lloyd Coates playing centre and playing with power and pace, making 20 -30 meters every time he got the ball put Rochdale on the back-foot. Tactically Macclesfield were more astute, Issaac Renney, Gray and Jakubowski all put in kicks that pinned Rochdale back to their 10m line, and from a resulting line out Macclesfield scored. The Macclesfield forwards controlled the pick-and-go game, sucking defenders in and running the clock down. When Rochdale did manage to break out, the cover defence was immense forcing turnovers and penalties; 22-17 to Macclesfield a deserved win.  The team now travel to Vale of Lune on Saturday with both sides undefeated this season; another tough encounter beckons.

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