Macclesfield 59 – Burnage 10

By David Wilkinson

The last game of the season couldn’t improve the league positions for either team, but that didn’t take anything away from the prospect of a competitive contest. The Burnage squad was well prepared for the match by two ex Macclesfield Player Coaches: Dave Muckalt and Chris Jones; and waiting on the bench, following his Love Island romance with Saman and the British public, Back Row Forward Kai Fagon. Kai had had the briefest of dalliances with Macclesfield back in the summer until his interests shifted elsewhere. But the real star of the show would be Sam Moss playing his 350th 1st team game, a record that may surpass all others in the UK. He was supposed to be on the bench, but a delayed flight meant that Brendan Berry would miss the kick-off; Mossy was moved into his usual position as Hooker and Harry Owens promoted to the bench.

James Cross goes over for the first try of the day

Macclesfield were quickly into the game, and after several phases of play pressed Burnage back winning a scrum 25 metres out. Macclesfield’s superiority was quickly demonstrated with a 15 metre surge to the line, Seb Pemberton picked from the base and when he was halted the ball went out to the Backs. Terence Babarinsa made good yards before it was recycled back to the right where James Cross made easy work of getting over the line, for the first score after 6 minutes.

Attis gets away to set up yet another Macc attack

A very messy period of play followed the restart, brought on by a heavy downpour that both teams found difficult to deal with; as a consequence possession would change hands several times. Burnage were awarded a couple of penalties and got themselves into Macclesfield territory. They attacked from a lineout, and when they came back to the blindside they had Macclesfield out-numbered, with number 6 Louis Hicks finding himself free on the left wing to run in from 40 metres; Burnage were in front 5 – 7 after 22 minutes.

Harry Oliver is stopped just short but it turns into a Penalty Try

Burnage still had their tails-up after the restart, winning a penalty wide on the left; they chose to go for goal, which seemed strange, given their previous successful lineouts, it turned out to be the wrong decision. Charlie Attis kicked deep from a drop-out, but Burnage couldn’t hold on to the greasy ball, which was spun out quickly after a solid scrum, Harry Oliver taking a flat crash-ball into the gap, after a 45 metre dash he was stopped just short. His pass to the supporting player being deliberately batted forward. It would cost the Burnage player 7 points and a yellow card; Macclesfield were back in front 12 – 7 after 29 minutes.

Man of the Match Harry Oliver finishing of the third try

After fielding the second deep kick, Attis chose to run, beating the first defender and setting Sam Adu away on the right, he had Harry Oliver free outside of him, and it looked like a try was on; however the referee had spotted a Macclesfield player nudge a would-be tackler. Once Macclesfield regained possession, they reapplied the pressure winning a penalty just outside their opponents 22. They chose to scrummage, where they had been rock-solid; there was a big blind-side and they used it to perfection, Pemberton picked up from the base feeding Scrum Half Louis Singleton who gained the attention of the inside defender, Singleton timed his pass well for Harry Oliver running on the angle, his pace taking him to the line unmolested. It was a classic, well executed blind-side move that put Macc 19 – 7 in front after 35 minutes.

No stopping Sam Adu as he swallow-dives in for the seventh try

After the restart, Burnage had their best period of play, going through the phases, getting into Macc’s 22, until the home-side turned the ball over. Subsequently Burnage tried to run it out, which given the very greasy conditions, was not the best plan, as they lost it forwards. From the scrum Macclesfield drove the Burnage pack back, but for the second time the referee had seen a Macclesfield infringement. Burnage took the gifted 3 points on offer which finished the half 19 – 10.

Sam Broster and Harry Blackwell came on for the second half, Put Phil Laing took a knock to the head at the restart, having to leave the field; Broster moved into the back row and Lloyd Smith-Coates rejoined the fray. The game was restarted with a scrum; Macc again applied great pressure forcing the mistake, two phases and Macclesfield were awarded a penalty on Burnage’s 22. Macc again opted for the scrum, but this time broke to the open, the whole of Burnage’s backline came up flat, leaving space behind for Singleton to slot a delightful grubber kick into. Oliver made no-mistake controlling it, soccer-style, and increasing the lead to 26 – 10.

Macclesfield won a penalty from the restart, which was punished by Attis, forcing Burnage back to their 22, but the pressure was immediately relieved as they won the lineout, and chose to run it out. One of the backline, now undistinguishable by his mud-caked shirt found a gap and ran 60 metres before being halted. Macc were penalised and the Burnage 9 went quickly, taking the ball to the line, but Macclesfield’s defence was solid, in desperation Burnage chipped to the wing, into the dead-ball area, but Sam Adu was first there. To make matters worse, Attis gave them no opportunity to attack again as his goal-line drop-out pitched into touch on halfway.

Harry Blackwell gets over for the fifth try

Macclesfield won the ball back and from a scrum, in their own half, and Attis chipped the ball from 60 metres out to bounce it into touch 8 metres from the line. The 50/22 would give Macclesfield the lineout but it wasn’t to be completed. Burnage had a short period of possession until Macc sprung another attack, from 40 metres out, Attis found a gap taking the ball to within 10 metres, he fed Adu who skipped sideways until he could pass to Blackwell who powered over for the fifth try, 33 – 10.

Will Davies is delighted with Harry Blackwell scoring the sixth try

Catching cleanly at the restart Macc were immediately back in attack, Babarinsa, Moss, and Harry Harding in particular, all making good yards. Attis pulled another rabbit out of his hat-of-kicking-tricks with an inch-perfect pass with the boot into Adu’s hands, who surged from halfway into the 22. Although the ball was briefly lost, Macc won a scrum to attack from, wide on the left, on the 22. After four phases Blackwell joined the line, dummied to Smith-Coates and crashed through the tackle to score his second in quick succession, 38 – 10.

A scrappy period of play followed, with Burnage having some possession but they couldn’t turn it into territory. Will Davies came back on along with Harry Owens; Burnage tried to run it out of defence again but when they spilled the ball Macc took advantage. Singleton picked up the lost ball feeding Will Davies who threw a long in-field pass to Adu, who caught it high and was off, through a gap and speeding to the line from 50 metres out for Macc’s 7th try and a 45 – 10 score-line.

Will Davies cannot be stopped getting over the line for the 8th try

From the restart, the Macc forwards went through the phases, gaining ground with every phase; Will Davies, now at 10, dinked a ball through for Adu, but the ball would eventually get into Kai Fagon’s hands, on for a spotlight 10 minutes; double-tackled he wasn’t going anywhere. Macclesfield were awarded a penalty, but when Attis spotted that there was no one at home, deep on the touchline, he chipped for Adu again; Sam nearly got there before the ball pitched into touch. If there was one criticism of Macclesfield’s play it was the lineout, and again it didn’t complete; James Cross had taken over the ‘arrows’ but the lineout was still inconsistent. Possession would change hands numerous times until Rhys Davies found himself in the backline, he too chipped the ball towards the line, and it seemed that Smith-Coates had scored, but the referee awarded a scrum to Macc on 5 metres. When it came out to Will Davies at 10, he gave the faintest of dummies to create enough space to score; Will threw the ball to Attis to convert and Charlie threw it back at him; Will duly obliged to finish it off, scoring the goal and another 7 points.

Harry Blackwell will not be stopped from scoring the last and his hat-trick try

Dan Percival caught the restart cleanly, for the umpteenth time, and Macc were off again, two phases and Will Davies fed Blackwell who fed Adu, Sam used his height to lob the ball back inside to Blackwell who ran a diagonal line to between the posts, dragging the tackler with him for the last 5 metres, Attis finished the scoring to make it 59 – 10.

MOTM Harry Oliver with David Wilkinson, UNITCOMMS

It had been a fine display for Macclesfield to finish the league season off with; with the same points as Sandbach, in fourth place, who had a better points-difference. Whilst Harry Oliver won MOTM it could have gone to several players. The conditions had been poor for running rugby but Macclesfield finished well, with a backline that had pace everywhere. Acting Head Coach Darren Lamon was delighted with the boys’ performance: “I thought the second half was outstanding, the boys did very well, in difficult conditions. Burnage really came at us in the first half, they were certainly up for it, and we made too many unforced errors that we’ll be looking at in the week. The second half substitutes worked very well and Broster did well going into the back row to cover. Phil Laing should be OK for Saturday, it was a precautionary replacement, and he passed his HIA. With five replacements on the bench there should be plenty of interchanges taking place, not just for the last 20 minutes”.

Darren has a couple of players missing but more coming back, so it should be a strong 20 to take on our neighbours for the Cheshire bragging-rites. The team is certainly in a good place to take on Sandbach next week, on Lymm’s fast track; it will hold no fears for them. Kick-off is 3.00 pm; it should be an excellent afternoon of rugby. Let’s get behind the Macc lads, in full voice, it could make all the difference to help them win some silverware for the Club – they deserve it.

Photography courtesy of: Aamir Sabzwari


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