Manchester Preview

By David Wilkinson

The start to this season couldn’t be more different than last season’s; maximum points from the first 3 matches, versus 3 losses last season, including an opening day loss to Manchester. Macclesfield has started this season as they finished last season, playing a brand of rugby that suits their strengths, that at times is played at a very high tempo. Last week at Priory Park, it was evident that Stockport could not compete with the speed of the game, but Saturday’s challenge at Grove Lane will be a completely different one.

Macclesfield sit in 2nd place on 15 points, with a 65 point difference, Manchester sit in 3rd place on 12 points with a 21 point difference, at this stage there is little on paper between the sides. Marshall Gadd will have been reminding his lads this week, of their win in the Pappa Johns Cup last season at Priory Park. At the time Macclesfield were flying high and were brought back down to earth after a game that was littered with errors. However Macclesfield scored 5 tries to three that day and the two bonus points kept them in the fight, progressing on to win the Cup.

Travelling to Cheadle Hulme will be no disadvantage to the Macc lads, their record on the road is very good; the last time they lost away from home was 9 months ago away to Blackburn – and their home ground is the fortress of the league. Manchester will be well aware of this and Marshall Gadd will have been working on where they can find an edge, equally so has Darren Lamond: “The boys have trained very hard this week, we’ve looked at several things that will be part of our match strategy, but our unique brand of rugby for away fixtures will remain the main focus”. The team is relatively unchanged, except for the unavailability of Sam Broster, who is replaced by Lloyd Smith-Coates. Brendan Berry hasn’t been able to train during the week so he drops to the bench, with Ollie Longmore starting at 2.

It promises to be another cracking contest for local bragging-rites, in the biggest of our local derbies, get their earlier to soak up the atmosphere and make your presence known when the boys come on to the pitch. Kick-off will be 3.00pm, the team is: 1. Dan Percival, 2. Ollie Longmore, 3. Samir Tahraoui, 4. Rhys Davies, 5. Harry Harding, 6. Tom Burden, 7. Matt Harrison, 8. James Oliver Captain 9. Dan Martin, 10. Charlie Attis, 11. Tom Jennings, 12. Terence Babarinsa, 13. Harry Oliver, 14. Sam Brown, 15. Harry Blackwell, 16. Brendan Berry, 17. Elliot Alston, 18. Lloyd Smith-Coates .

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