Macclesfield 23 – Stockport 25
By David Wilkinson
After a 4-week gap from league rugby this rematch was much anticipated, by both sets of supporters. The previous game in October, at the Bramhall ground, had been a classic contest, nip-and-tuck for the full 80 minutes that needed a special moment to decide the match. Given the context of this derby match, the pre-match view was that this game was likely to be very similar. Heavy rain on Saturday morning would leave the odd puddle on the pitch, but it drained pretty well.
Sam Broster’s power on the wing creates the first try for Sam Brown
There were several probing exchanges as the teams tested each other’s defences, until Macclesfield pulled the trigger. From a play starting on the left, all of the backline were stacked on the right; Charlie Attis looped around Terence Babarinsa before firing a double miss-pass to Sam Broster on the wing. Broster handed-off the first two defenders, and drew the last defender before passing back inside for Sam Brown’s pace to finish easily. It was a very well executed try, Macclesfield were 5 points up after 4 minutes.
Macclesfield won a scrum from the restart and it was the first time that Stockport demonstrated the power of their pack. From a free ball in the middle of the park Tom Eaton slung the ball from between his legs and it worked out well for the visitors making good ground. Several phases later Port attacked deep into the Macc half, a grubber kick from the 13 put Sam Brown under pressure, and isolated he had to hold onto the ball a fraction longer. From the penalty Stockport caught and drove at the lineout, and one phase would put their Loose Head Prop Paul McGookin over the line. Euan Holt slotted the conversion for Stockport to take the lead after 24 minutes.
Brendan Berry sprinting like a back for Macc’s second try
Two scrums were to be major features after the restart. After a not straight at the lineout, Macclesfield were punished at the scrum, Stockport got a nudge on and Macclesfield stood-up; this was to be repeated denying Macclesfield possession, but the home team defended well. When they did get their hands back on the ball they attacked with purpose, Attis switching play inside and out. Eaton made a rare mistake kicking the ball out on the full and from the lineout Macclesfield attacked into the open, after two phases, Attis cut back on the blindside firing a pass out to Brendan Berry; a Stockport defender attempted to intercept but in doing so put it neatly into Berry’s hands, who was now at full-tilt, showing a clean pair of heels to the defence and putting Macc back in front 10 – 7.
Sam Brown in full-flight for Macclesfield’s third try
From the restart Macclesfield were back on the attack, going through their phases taking the ball back to halfway, it looked like a play with Babarinsa was not working out before Attis but a deft chip over the defensive line, the visitor’s were slow to react, unlike Sam Brown who was on to it in a flash, catching it on the bounce and streaking to the line, to make it 17 – 7. There was still two minutes to play to half-time and Stockport would make good use of it. They won a scrum deep into the home team’s half, but the Macc pack held firm; but at the next phase were penalised. The catch and drive from the lineout was clinical, and Macclesfield had no answer for the visitors surge over the whitewash; it was 17 – 14 at half-time and all to play for.
The second half saw Macc put a good attack together, but when it broke down, were penalised; Stockport made a quick tap-penalty, but didn’t get far. From the next Macc attack Phil Laing took a crash-ball, which provoked a lunging high-tackle and 10 minutes in the sin-bin Tom Eaton. Attis made the ex Macclesfield captain pay, by slotting it between the posts, 20 – 14.
Terence Babarinsa no-look-pass
Once again Stockport punished Macclesfield in the scrum; they drove Macc back, attacking off it at close quarters, ultimately winning a penalty, 5 metres out. Given the mayhem they were causing in the scrum, one would have presumed that they would have opted for the scrum, but they took the points instead, 20 – 17. James Cross came on for Tom Burden at Tight Head Prop to add some much-needed bulk to the pack. Two minutes later Attis would have the opportunity to increase the lead back to six, but it was an uncharacteristic costly miss from 25 metres. Macclesfield piled on the pressure, phase after phase, until a high-tackle from 10 metres out gave Attis the simplest of kicks to restore the advantage.
Macclesfield looked in control, they attacked from a lineout on halfway, Attis delayed his pass, but the ball went between the players, the on-rushing Stockport defence gathering, and having too many players in support for Macc to keep them out. It was now a one point game at 23 – 22. At this stage the scoreboard clock had malfunctioned and no one was quite sure how much was left to play.
Macc pressed again forcing play deep into the visitor’s half, Attis chipped to the right wing, Broster just inches from gathering it at full pace. Macclesfield won a scrum from the lineout and were much more solid, but the visitor’s would clear back into the Macc half. There was a period of indiscipline from both sides, with Stockport’s 6 seeing out the rest of the game from the bench, for persistently questioning the referee. Macc were now deep into Port’s territory, but penalised at an attacking ruck, then marched back 10 metres; the tables turned again, it was two pieces of poor discipline that would be their undoing.
Stockport press in the dying minutes before Eaton’s drop goal clinched the contest
The Stockport team were now on the attack and won a scrum, with Tom Eaton making up the numbers, packing down at 7. They drove Macclesfield back, ultimately winning another penalty. They brought a Back into the lineout, and drove for the line, with others joining the maul. Although the Macclesfield defence held firm the ball was thrown back to Eaton, as he swung his boot at it for the drop-goal, he lost his footing; but the ball scraped over the bar for the match. It was ‘dejas-vous’ for Eats, but the last time, his final play had won the league for Macclesfield in Darlington.
It was a contest that could have gone either way, decided upon small margins, but the Macclesfield players were very down in the mouth after the game, they knew that they had blown it. Macclesfield had played most of the attacking rugby and could have won comfortably, if it wasn’t for poor execution at key moments and ill-discipline. They were outplayed at scrum and maul, which gave Stockport enough possession and go forward to quell Macclesfield’s attacks and ultimately the opportunity to see the game off.
Head Coach, Ben Wade, was disappointed with the performance: “The boys know that they made too many mistakes, some poor decisions and poor application at times. There are quite a few things that we need to look at, on Tuesday and Thursday before going up to Blackburn. Getting one point out of the game was not good enough”. Ben knows that it could and should have been the full five points, as do the players.
Macclesfield RUFC Colts – Transition Week
By Phil Mason – MRUFC Colts Manager
Senior Colt Noah Reaney teams-up with his brother Issac for the 2nd XV
The Colts age group is currently a combined U17 and U18 group, forming a senior Colts team. As part of the season there are regular Transition Weeks, aimed at the senior U18 players, allowing them to take part in senior games across the club.
On Saturday four of our senior colts were in action playing for Macclesfield’s senior teams.
Senior Colts Charlie Hogg, Pierce Thomson and Roan Elliot run out for the Thirds
Three lads Charlie Hogg, Pierce Thomson and Roan Elliot, took to the field with Macclesfield 3rd XV taking on Liverpool University Trainee Vets coming out victorious in a 40 – 27 win!
Meanwhile taking to the field for the 2nd XV senior colt Noah Reaney played alongside older brother Isaac in a tough and tight game away at Warrington, 7 – 8 to Macclesfield.
Regardless of results, these young players are coming through from age grade rugby into the adult game. Managing the transition is crucial, in terms of looking after player welfare, encouragement and of course providing the right environment.
Colts Head Coach, Russ Tomlinson embraces this ethos: “What a weekend for youth to senior transition rugby at the Club. Something we must celebrate. To have 4 lads selected to play for the senior teams is excellent. It’s all about player development, opportunity and enjoyment. I’m really proud and happy for the lads that took to the field today. The future at Macclesfield is bright”
Macclesfield 4th XV 45 – Helsby Veterans 19
By Terry Robson
The mighty fourths took the pitch for the first time for 5 weeks and enjoyed an outstanding win in a fiercely but fairly contested game, notable for plenty of individual skills and fast-flowing rugby.
It was a debut for Charlie Hogg along with try-scoring Dan Kingston, lots more to come from these young men. All the other 16 players were regulars although Sam Bankcroft and Rob McLeod have not previously featured this season.
Macclesfield took an early 20 point lead and were good value for it. Paul Smith was delighted with his two tries, both opportunistic in nature; as a scrum half he’s quick but didn’t really need his afterburners to get over the line from close range. He’s a man who loves his rugby and is enthusiastically infectious when things go for him; his attitude rubs off on his team-mates urging them to greater efforts.
The other double-try-scorer, Pete Hardwick, did have to work very hard for his scores. He’s an integral member of the fourth team and his pace in both attack and defence is a massive asset allowing him to score himself or record assists for his fellow three quarters.
Mike Dale provided an early try; it was gratifying to watch him cross the whitewash; Mike’s a solid scrummager but not often on the score-sheet.
When the side clicks together in phased rugby they’re a match for any team at this level; they can often go through ten or twelve phases of play but defending against opponents is not one of their better aspects, defensive holes appear and they allowed Helsby to score three tries and almost take the lead.
James Keep at 10 kept the line moving, and his kicking from hand caught-the-eye gaining lots of yardage, also converting five of the seven tries.
Next week they travel to local rivals Congleton for what will be a tasty encounter between two teams that know each other well.