MACC PLAYERS PICK THEMSELVES UP!

Review of 2022 part 2

By David Wilkinson

As Head Coaches do, Andy Appleyard would pay the price for the poor start to the season, stepping down from his coaching role to concentrate on his General Manager position. Ben Wade took over the top job, supported by a very capable assistant in Darren Lamond; Clive Griffiths decided to concentrate on his school’s coaching, nearer to his home in St Helens. The new coaching team would be picking up the pieces with a squad in shock, and it would get worse before it got any better.

First up was Rossendale, the Lancashire club was not a happy hunting ground for Macclesfield, and somehow the cash-strapped club had acquired the considerable services of Matt Lamprey, along with another 5 ex Preston Grasshopper players. Macclesfield’s injuries continued, losing new Fly Half Charlie Attis, then Brendan Berry in the warm-up; and when James Oliver left the field with a pulled hamstring Ben Wade was forced to take the field himself. Lamprey would cause his usual mayhem, with a score-line of 69 -22, that could have done little to improve player confidence at the time.

Captain James Oliver crashes through to score the third

Caption: Captain James Oliver crashes through to score the third

The first visit by Sandbach for 30 years followed, for what would be a classic derby contest. Macclesfield had picked themselves up my their boot-straps, and with Charlie Attis back in the saddle they played a free-flowing game, that could have resulted in their first win, as it was, Sandbach sneaked it 22 – 24. It was a loss that had felt like a victory. Stockport away followed, with big crowds from both of the clubs; it was another classic derby encounter. Neil Mantel came on at Loose-head in the second half to remind Macclesfield supporters what they have been missing in the scrum. With ten minutes to go Stockport were ahead, but it was far from over, the clock ticked down and a kick would seal it for Macc. Sam Brown joined the line coming in from the left wing taking the ball to within 10 metres, when the ball was recycled he sprinted back across the pitch towards his wing, getting on the outside of Harry Oliver just in time for the scoring pass. It was a wonder try that was appropriate to finish such a classic encounter, 29 – 35; everyone from Macc was happy.

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

A corner had been turned; Ben Wade had been looking forward to the visit of table-toppers Blackburn all season, and now the Macc lads had got some momentum going. They matched Blackburn in the pack, and the Stand witnessed the arrival of Terence Babarinsa, who was determined to impress, and he did. At Inside Centre he presented a different point of attack, with his whirling spin out of the tackle. But the Blackburn pack was starved of their usual possession stats and Macc’s 25 – 19 victory did not go down well with the, fast exiting, opposition Alikadoos; it sent a ripple around the league.

Burnage were next on their new 4G surface. Macclesfield were comfortable in the first half building a 19 point lead by half time. It would be Rhys Davies’s debut, another loan player from Sale FC, and he looked the part, making good ground with ball in hand, alongside Harry Harding. Macc would lose two players to injuries, followed by two yellow cards, as Burnage got some momentum on the tiring 4G pitch, scoring 3 tries. But it would be the Macclesfield 13 that finished the stronger, with Brendan Berry going over for his hat-trick in the dying minutes. Under a barrage of abuse, Charlie Attis would show his steal in taking the full allocation of time for the conversion, to deny Burnage any chance of a losing bonus point, the game finishing 24 – 43.

Kendal were despatched at Priory Park with an excellent attacking game scoring 53 points, but the defensive play was not so good letting in 26  and a try bonus point. It was then Macc’s turn to travel north to Kirkby Lonsdale to face their very young side. Macclesfield would pile-on 77 unanswered points to get their 5th win-on-the-trot and a happy south-bound bus home.

Terence Babarinsa breaks the line

The real challenge was to come, with Lymm at Priory Park; and whilst Macclesfield put up a strong challenge, Lymm were just too good on the day, which their management confirmed, as the team’s best performance so far this season, 15 – 36.

A trip to the Wirral would get Macc briefly, back on-track in a competitive contest 21 – 33. After the humiliating performance at the start of the season, against Northwich, Macclesfield were seeking revenge, and they had every chance as they crossed the try-line more times than the home side did; but their discipline let them down. The eclectic, mid-Cheshire, group of foreign players proved just too much for Macclesfield on the day, with Northwich scraping a 38 – 34 win. It would be the last of the action for 2022, as games against Rossendale and Sandbach were both postponed due to frozen pitches.

After a very difficult start to the season 6th place is not an unreasonable position to be in, but the coaching team will be hoping to improve on that by the 11th of March. Ben Wade had this to say: “We can only take each game as it comes, so all focus is currently on Stockport, and what we need to do, to combat their threats; followed by the trip to Blackburn which we will treat the same. We are too far back to challenge for the top, but fourth is not an unrealistic target. It’s been great to see how this young side has developed; they are gaining in confidence, on and off the pitch, now with the help of some older heads. We are giving the boys a good rest over the break, which will help with some of the niggling injuries. We are not sure when Harry Blackwell and Will Davies will be fit to make a return, but as far as the rest of the squad goes we now have options to select from, subject to the opposition”.

If the squad can stay fit they should have every chance of improving on the first half of the year. Look out for Sam Adu, who could be getting some game-time, on a short-term loan from Sale FC, at 20 years of age he should have some gas on the wing. It will be a full-house against Stockport on 7th January, with limited place left for the pre-match lunch, book on the website.

 

 

#maccrugby

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