Manchester Preview

By David Wilkinson

As I write, the game is in the balance of the Gods. If it doesn’t go ahead, it could be scratched from the fixture list; although the result could affect our position in the league, and as such which Pappa Johns’ competition that we are entered into during April – so fingers crossed.

It is 27 years since we played Manchester at Priory Park, Macclesfield won the bragging-rites that day, but it would be Manchester that climbed to the dizzy heights of the second tier of rugby. The cost of professional rugby became too great, ultimately plummeting them 5 or six levels, before climbing back to level five, fit and healthy. They will present another mighty challenge on Saturday. Head Coach, Ben Wade, knows this well: “Manchester will be relishing the re match at Priory Park after the first game of the season, and Marshy (ex Macc Coach, Marshall Gadd) will have them ready for us again, although we’re a different team now.”

Manchester nip down the road to Macclesfield on the back of a tough game against Lymm, going down 7 – 34; whilst Macc has won the last four games on the trot including wins against Lymm and Sandbach. Macclesfield are without six players, 3 injured and 3 away, but the unavailability presents opportunity for others. Sam Moss steps in at Tighthead Prop, to play his first game since breaking his leg last season; it will be his 349th for Macclesfield. Wadey is also delighted to welcome others back into the team: “It’s great to have Harry Blackwell and Will Davies back after prolonged injuries, they are desperate to play, and it’s a wonderful opportunity also for Lewis to step up from the twos and for 18 year-old Haydn Keogh”. Haydn is Captain at King’s School and has played twice this year for North of England U18s; there will be a very proud Macc Ladies’ mum cheering him on for his debut – go for it Mandy!

Come in your droves to cheer on the Macc lads, against their old Manchester rivals, it should be a fantastic day, with 160 attending the Past Players lunch, and England against France to follow. Kick-off is 3pm, the team is: 1 Dan Percival, 2 Brendan Berry VC, 3 Sam Moss, 4 Rhys Davies, 5 Harry Harding, 6 Elliot Alston, 7 Seb Pemberton, 8 Phil Laing, 9 Louis Singleton, 10 Charlie Attis, 11 Sam Adu, 12 Terence Babarinsa, 13 Harry Oliver Captain, 14 Lloyd Smith-Coates, 15 Will Davies, 16 Lewis Stanhope, 17 Harry Blackwell, 18 Haydn Keogh.

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