Derby 22 – Macclesfield 36

Pappa Johns Cup Plate Quarter Final

By David Wilkinson

Saturday’s contest whilst being the third round was in essence the Quarter Final, as only Derby or Macclesfield could now win the group. Derby had 10 points, Macclesfield 7. Sandal had conceded their game against Manchester, with Manchester being awarded a 5-point win, putting them on 11 points; but as they were not awarded anything in the points-for column, they couldn’t win the group. It ended with Macclesfield topping the league on 12 points, Manchester finishing on 11 points and Derby third on 10 points; Macclesfield going through to the Semi-Final, against Stockport at Bramhall.

Only a handful of the Alikadoos were on the bus with the boys, but they were treated royally by Derby, with an excellent pre-match lunch. Derby certainly posed a threat playing on their 4G playing surface; Finlay, their flying Right Wing, is something of a points-machine for them, but as it turned out on the today, he was starved of the ball, and dealt with speedily when he had it.

First try to Derby as Corwell scores after 16 minutes

Derby started the stronger; Macclesfield seemed to be taking a little longer to get into their stride, and on 14 minutes Derby opened the scoring with a penalty from Bingham. It got worse for Macclesfield, Derby had their tales-up and Macc were still on the coach; Derby won the ball back after the restart and were straight back into attack. Several phases got them into the visitors 22, and a series off-loads put Loosehead Prop David Cowell into a gap to score an un-molested try between the posts, for a 10 – 0 lead after 16 minutes.

Sam Adu gets over in the corner

The score seemed to have woken Macclesfield from their slow start, and got them out of the blocks. They now had total ascendency in the scrum, and applied the pressure. From an attack on the right the ball was whipped out to the left, where Sam Adu’s strength and pace got him over the whitewash in the corner, 10 – 5 after 19 minutes.

Charlie Attis dances over the whitewash

Macclesfield were now in determined mood, and they worked their way up-field, getting back into the Derby half. They worked their way up the right side of the field, and when the ball came back inside, Fly Half Charlie Attis, swung a big show-and-go, to create a space for him to sprint through, to score a try and conversion for a 10 – 12 lead after 24 minutes, a lead that Macc would then not relinquish.

Harry Blackwell, who would go on to win the Man-of-the-Match, staunched any chance of Derby regaining any real momentum, with a try-saving tackle, reminiscent of the great JPR Williams, launching himself through the air, to smash the would-be Derby try scorer into touch.

Sam Adu rounds the defence and heads for the sticks

I didn’t take long for Macclesfield to regain possession after the restart; they were now in confident mood and went through their well-trained processes, making good ground until the trigger was pulled again. And it was fired out towards the left wing, and whilst that was where Derby’s try-scoring flying Finlay impatiently prowled up and down, waiting for the ball, he was no threat whilst it was in Macclesfield’s hands. Instead it went through several safe-hands before reaching those of Sam Adu; and although Sam still has bits to perfect in his very young rugby career, he knows his way very well to the line. This time rounding the last defenders to score under the posts to make the goal-kick a simple one, it was now 10 – 19 after 27 minutes.

A solid Macclesfield scrum

Almost thirty points had been scored in a mere 13 minutes, but there was now a lull in the excitement. Macclesfield were still dominant in the scrum and when they won a penalty in an attacking situation, they chose to scrummage, but the ball was knocked on at the back, and Derby were able to relieve the pressure; there were no further scores before half-time.

Acton scores the second try for Derby

It took 7 minutes of the second half for the scoring to continue; Derby won a lineout on the Macclesfield 10 metre line, and attacked down the left side of the field. Winning a lineout just outside the 5 metres, the Derby Scrum Half, Joseph Acton, darted to the line, Bingham converted and there was only two points dividing the teams.

Harry Blackwell’s scintillating score for the bonus-point

Although Derby had stabilised the scrum after changing their Tight Head Prop, Macclesfield still had the upper-hand, and after a period of play in the middle of the pitch, worked an attack on the left. Harry Blackwell joined the attack from Full Back scything through the defence with a huge side-step and crashing through the last defenders to score, and increase Macclesfield’s lead to 17 – 26, and winning the bonus-point. Macclesfield continued to apply the pressure, and when they won a penalty in Charlie Attis’s range, there was no hesitation in going for the points, and Attis obliged.

Derby were far from done though, they worked an attack on their right, where William Town, joined from his right wing, looking for work, and he found it with a well executed score, 22 – 29 with 17 minutes to go.

Harry Oliver crashes through the tackles

It was getting too close for comfort, but the boys were still full of confidence and went through their plays. Attis kicked deep to put their Left Wing under pressure with the team hounding down the would-be counter attackers. The ball was turned-over and after several phases Brendan Berry crashed onto an offload and bundled his way over. The Derby players pleaded that it hadn’t been grounded, but the referee was at hand to raise his arm, thus securing all the points for Macclesfield. Although there was still 15 minutes left on the clock, Derby would not be given another opportunity to score; Attis missed a chance at the sticks, but it didn’t matter, there was nothing else to gain.

Acting Head Coach, Darren Lamon, was very pleased with the boys performance: “We probably left a few points out there, but the boys played with a confidence that I have not seen before. Derby were a decent team and kept coming back at us with scores, but each time, it didn’t affect the boys, they were confident in their game and structure and knew that it would work for them, which it did. It will be tough next week at Stockport, but we only suffered one injury, with a leg knock to Will Davies, and hopefully he’ll be OK for Saturday. All the boys played well, with Laingy (Phil Laing) looking good coming back in, and Blackwell bursting tackles for his try and getting MOTM. It will be a lighter session on Tuesday for the boys to get over the 4G pitch, and then we’ll build up for Stockport’s challenge”.

It’s disappointing that Macclesfield has had only one home with potentially a lot of expense with travel to Sandal, Derby and Stockport, so far, with a much greater expense to the final, should we be good enough to get there! But first there are our friends at Stockport to contend with; it will be the biggest game for both clubs, for quite some time. A win will win the chance to compete in the final of a national cup, and that’s a first! Kick-off is 3.00 pm, get there early it’s going to be very busy!


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