By David Wilkinson
This is it, at around 6.30 pm on Saturday, at Sixways Stadium in Worcester the Fat Lady will sing her last aria for Macclesfield in the 2022/23 season, hopefully accompanied by lots of “Whaa-Hoos”. Like all of the tough contests this season, it will come down to the performance, which team can do it on the day. To get this far the teams have to be winners, Maidenhead had a one-point win over Bedford Athletic to win their league, but only played two games; they then beat Tring 34 – 51 to go through. Macclesfield had a tougher time winning their league with an emphatic 15 – 48 win over Stockport in the semi-final.
From the little that I have seen, Maidenhead seems to be well drilled in the set-piece, with a reasonable rucking game and an off-loading game that creates most of their opportunities. They are coached in the backs by World Cup winner Will Greenwood, and have an Outside Centre as tall as Greenwood, but thankfully not quite of his class; they do however have a very rapid Left Wing, that the squad is well aware of. Maidenhead’s open play, looks to me, to be less structured than Macclesfield’s, they play what’s in front of them, so to speak, and do not look to have quite the same fire-power that Macclesfield can generate. Macclesfield will have a strategy for the game, that’s for sure, and if it can in anyway replicate the performance against Stockport in the semis, we will be in for a treat.
Acting Head Coach, Darren Lamon took the squad through their last coaching session of the season on Thursday evening: “The focus was naturally only, about winning, score more than your opponents, we talked about how we would feel between now and on Saturday on the coach, about being nervous and/or excited, and not to confuse nervousness with excitement, the excitement of playing again with your team-mates and performing well. It’s the target the boys set themselves, and they are there; at 6.30 on Saturday they have the opportunity of making their mark”.
Other than Seb Pemberton, who is sadly injured, it is the complete squad, a testament to Issy Adlington, Head of Medical, and her team, along with Sam from Athletes 1st, for keeping the players fit and available. This is a great opportunity for Macclesfield to really make a mark, and set up the squad, for a challenge for the league title, all of whom will be playing for Macclesfield next season. Entry into Sixways is free of charge, with Macclesfield’s game kicking off at 5.00 pm, please try and make it along if you can, to cheer the boys on the victory.
The squad is: 1 Dan Percival, 2 Brendan Berry VC, 3 James Cross, 4 Rhys Davies, 5 Harry Harding, 6 Sam Broster, 7 Tom Burden, 8 James Oliver – Captain, 9 Dan Martin, 10 Charlie Attis, 11 Sam Adu, 12 Terence Babarinsa, 13 Harry Oliver, 14 Sam Brown, 15 Harry Blackwell, 16 Marcus Pyle, 17 Elliot Alston, 18. Phil Laing, 19 Louis Singleton, 20 Will Davies, 21 Tom Jennings, 22 Lloyd Smith-Coates; travelling reserve Tom Blackwell..