Macclesfield 25 – Blackburn 19

By David Wilkinson

The last time these two teams faced each other at Priory Park, Macclesfield thought that they had won it, with the last gasp, scoring to regain the lead with just a minute left on the clock, but Blackburn still had a last gasp left in them, and scored again to win 30 points to 32! Blackburn came to Cheshire with an unbeaten record this season, with maximum points, compared to Macc’s poor start, although they were just pipped-at-the-post by Sandbach and won away to Stockport, last time out, scoring 5 tries. Blackburn would not be naïve enough to ignore Macclesfield’s improvement in form, which was demonstrated by the way that they tore into the home team from the kick-off.

It was a perfectly weighted kick-off that fooled Macclesfield, and was caught on the full by Blackburn’s open-side flanker going at full-tilt, his speed took him to within 10 metres, and after three phases the visitors had enough momentum to get over the line, and a 7 point lead.

Seb Pemberton scores the opening try for Macclesfield

The best way to combat such an early set back is to hit straight back, and that is just what Macclesfield did. They forced Blackburn back into their 22, from the restart, and won a scrum it was the first time they would have their hands on the ball. Up steps Terence Babarinsa, on loan from Sale FC, a powerful Inside Centre, with a trademark hand-off and spin. The ball came straight to him from the scrum, and there it was, the hand-off and spin, that made good yards; the ball was spun left, and back right, after two phases, to Dan Percival, who instantly passed back inside to Seb Pemberton, running against the grain to make it all-square, 14 points after 4 minutes.

Harry Harding with some help from Lloyd Smith-Coates gets the second

After the restart Blackburn were penalised at a ruck, and Charlie Attis made good ground. The catch and drive from the lineout seemed to catch Blackburn’s big forwards by surprise as the Macc pack drove to the line, Harry Harding broke from the maul, and with a little help from Right Winger Lloyd Smith Coates, was over to take the lead 12 – 7.

Try, or no-try for Sam Brown?

Macclesfield were playing all of the rugby, forcing Blackburn to make mistakes; after knocking-on, Attis punished them, putting in a teasing kick; Blackburn tried to run it out, but the energetic Sam Brown forced their talisman 15 to knock-on. It looked like Brown had scored, after the following scrum, but it was knocked-on over the line. It was nip-and-tuck around the halfway line for the next ten minutes, with Macclesfield having most of the possession until a penalty 35 metres out gave Attis the chance to increase the lead to 15 – 7.

Then for the first time, since their early try Blackburn got a foothold in Macclesfield’s half of the field; and from an eminently kickable penalty they chose to go for the corner. Whilst the catch and drive from the line-out was stopped, Macclesfield were caught napping out-wide to the left, with a deft chip finding the grateful hands of the winger, to make it 15 – 12.

Lloyd Smith- Coates made good ground up the right wing, after catching a well weighted chip from Attis, Macclesfield pressed through several phases until Blackburn escaped after the debutant, Babarinsa, was penalised for holding on. It had been a good half for Macclesfield, the set-piece was solid, and they had been far more creative with ball in hand.


Charlie Attis’s two penalties would make the difference

Blackburn, started the second half with a sustained period of pressure, and after a hand-bags issue got into Macclesfield’s 22 from the awarded penalty, only for James Oliver to turn-over the ball, winning the first of his two jackals to put Macclesfield back on the front foot. Charlie Attis made two uncharacteristic mistakes, but he would quickly redeem himself, slotting a penalty over from 35 metres ,after a no-arms tackle; Macclesfield were looking confident going 18 – 12 up.

After the restart, Blackburn guessed right at a lineout, managing to get in front of the Macclesfield jumper, and successfully batting it back to create an attack. Three strong phases followed, all making good ground, when the ball came back to the right the visitor’s 10 created a gap in the Macc defence. A miss-move would give the outside runner sufficient space to come back in on an angle and through the gap. He drew the last man, to put their no.6 under the posts and retake the lead with a cleverly executed try.

No stopping Sam Brown as he speeds to the line for the third

Both teams would have sustained periods of pressure, but twice Blackburn knocked-on, thwarting their efforts; in contrast Charlie Attis’s boot was keeping Macclesfield within striking range; and a sensational strike it was, when it came. From a scrum on Blackburn’s 10 metre line, Left Wing, Sam Brown, positioned himself behind the scrum, for what looked like a set-piece move. Harry Oliver ran on the diagonal from Outside Centre, but Attis slipped the ball to Brown on-the-burst; whilst the move didn’t actually make hole in the defence, Sam bounced of the tackler and was off for the line, his clever footwork took him outside the last defender and he was under the posts for a seven-pointer.

Louis Singelton came on at nine for Dan Martin, shortly to be followed by Elliot Alston and Tom Jennings; there were eight minutes left to hang on to a six point lead, it would be a tense affair. Macclesfield won a lineout from the restart and were back on the attack. A driving maul took them to the 22, and when the ball was switched to the blindside, Harry Oliver raced down the wing, he was tackled before the line but slipped the ball out of the tackle and it looked like Macc had put the icing on the cake, but the ball was grounded short, a quick recycle but the Blackburn defence forced the powerful Terence Babarinsa into touch. Blackburn were still on the rack, but they won the lineout and cleared well.

Jubilant Macc lads

Macclesfield were going for the bonus point try and hit straight back again, putting several phases together; Babarinsa was determined to leave his mark on the game, and though he was tackled, he still made 25 metres, but Macc seemed to be harshly penalised at the ruck and Blackburn got relief again. This time they made good ground, getting deep into the Macc half; the Priory Park Faithful must have had their hearts-in-their-mouths, visualising a repeat of last season. Blackburn won a penalty and with a mere 25 seconds remaining went for a scrum, the ball was spun out to the backs, but in their haste, the ball was spilled and the final whistle was blown.

There was much joy, both on the pitch and in the Stand; it had been a highly competitive game, fought to the very end. There was no luck about Macclesfield’s win over the league leaders, every point was hard won; it had been a massive change since the start of the season. The team can now look forward to their next run of games starting with Burnage away next week.

Head Coach, Ben Wade, was delighted with the win: “The boys new the task ahead of them before the game, but they executed well throughout. I was very pleased to see the impact that Terence Babarinsa brought to the game, he worked hard, his experience showed and he was always chatting to the boys; great also to have the Captain (James Oliver) back. The boys showed great belief; they never panicked, even when we went a score down. They deserved their night out, at the end of the day they beat the top of the league”.

Kendal 2nd XV 10 – Macclesfield 2nd XV 34

The second XV continued their excellent start to the season with a win at Kendal on Saturday. This result combined with Vale of Lune losing, for the first time this season, means the seconds now sit on top of League 1 of the Halbro North West League.

Reports back, are that the game was played in atrocious conditions, with Macclesfield trying to play flowing rugby against the odds. After going 10 points down, they adapted their game and the points flowed as fast as the rain.

Jim Curtis thought that it was probably the best performance of the season so far, saying: “The defence was awesome”, particularly mentioning Max Dempsey and Carl Droy. The team bus left with only 13, James Keep drove up, and Sam Bancroft drove over from the Lake District to make the bare 15. Team spirit will be high, as will their expectations.

This weekend the team will face Anselmians 2nd XV who are undefeated in four games and convincingly beat Broughton Park by 50 points to nil in their last outing. This looks likely to be the toughest of tests for this young and talented side. It will be interesting to see the depth of talent in the Anselmians side as their first fifteen are currently unbeaten in Regional 2 North West, supporters may remember that they defeated the first team in the Cheshire Cup last season. Team Manager Russ Tomlinson will hope to name a strong side based on form and availability from the 1st XV squad. For those unable to make the trip to Burnage the 2s would welcome some vocal support on Saturday.


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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