STOCKPORT 6-TRY SLAM

Macclesfield 46 – Stockport 6

By David Wilkinson

Saturday saw the first of the local derbies at Priory Park; Macclesfield held the bragging-rites after a win at Headlands in the Semi Final of the Pappa Johns Cup, but Stockport had won last time at Priory Park, with a last gasp drop-goal from Tom Eaton. What was noticeable before kick-off was that their team-sheet showed 11 changes to last season, where Macclesfield’s was a only 4; added to which Stockport had made 6 changes from the previous week where Macclesfield had made one.

The game kicked-off at the usual frenetic play, with the two sides testing each other out; Stockport had the first success after a few minutes, with new Fly Half Cameron Hertz bisecting the posts, he could have made it a brace a few minutes later, but his kick drifted wide.

Sam Brown going in for the first try

Following the restart Macclesfield set up their first attack, just inside the Stockport half, four phases took play right and back left with Brendan Berry (celebrating his 150th appearance), engaging two tacklers before off-loading to Harry Oliver, who immediately fed Sam Brown in support to round the sticks for the first try, and for a simple kick by his provider; 7 – 3 after 6 minutes.

MOTM James Oliver sets up Tom Jennings for the second try

Stockport won a penalty and went for the corner, attacking from the lineout with purpose, but were turned over by Harry Oliver in front of the posts Charlie Attis shaped to kick, then tapped, feeding Harry Oliver who took it deep into the visitors half; with then Attis chipping out to the right to an on rushing Sam Brown, but for once his pin-point kicking deserted him, the ball going dead. Relief for Stockport did not last long; their goal-line drop-out went deep, Attis fed James Oliver on halfway who powered through two tackles before feeding Tom Jennings on the Left Wing for a simple run in, and a 12 – 3 lead after 12 minutes

From the restart, Cameron Hertz kicked what would be Stockport’s last points of the day. A minute later he cleared with a big kick into Macclesfield’s 22, only for Harry Blackwell to seize upon it and weave his way through the Stockport team with a clear run to the line, but the referee blew-up believing that he (the Referee) had interfered with play. The resulting Macclesfield scrum came under pressure, collapsing on the Tight-head; it would be the one part of Stockport’s play where they had dominance.

Matt Harrison breaking the line again

Macclesfield regained possession, and were awarded a penalty for a high shot, and were back on attack from the lineout. A delayed pass from Attis put Matt Harrison into a gap, he threw out a long pass to Sam Brown, and it was a race to the line. Brownie, slipped the first tackle and was inside the 5 metres, but Macc were penalised at the tackle for sealing-off.

Danny Martin dives over the ruck for his try

A penalty put Macc back deep into the Stockport half, where they would stay for a protracted period. Wave after wave of attacks from Macclesfield required some solid defence from the visitors, but Stockport eventually won a penalty on their line to relieve some pressure. From a scrum deep in their half Macclesfield reset the attack button, keeping the ball alive and going through multiple phases, always making ground, until a ruck on the line between the posts gave Danny Martin the opportunity to dive over the top for a 7-point score, 19 – 6 after 38 minutes.

When Macclesfield won possession back after the restart, they kept the pressure on through numerous phases until they split the defence at a rolling maul, Brendan Berry was over but the referee deemed he was held-up, even though he touched down as he was stopped on his back. A penalty would quickly follow and Macclesfield took the points.

Harry Oliver rounds the defence to score

Stockport tried to play it out of their half but a big hit by Rhys Davies put them under pressure, and a penalty followed, they spurned the simple kick for points, instead going for territory. From the lineout Terence Babarinsa came in from the left wing and committed the defence, the ball was quickly spun to the right with Harry Oliver getting outside his man to take all of the points, 29 – 6.

Sam Brown on his 100 metre dash to the line

Stockport would then go through their best period of play, they worked their way into the Macclesfield red-zone, and put Macclesfield under serious pressure, the home-side giving away four penalties, and being considerably fortunate not to be yellow carded. The blue-line held firm on the try-line, and after numerous attempts to get over, the ball was flung out to the backs. Sam Brown telegraphed the pass, intercepting, and running the length of the pitch to score between the posts, 36 – 6.

Following the restart, Attis chipped into Stockport’s half, and when they won the ball back Stockport infringed, with Oliver slotting the penalty to nudge the score ahead, 39 – 6. Macclesfield cleared deep with the ball being marked; the Full Back then stepped back and approached to kick the ball but Harry Oliver and Berry were on him. It should have been play-on but the referee, mysteriously, allowed Stockport to re take the kick.

Eliot Alston gets the last try

Stockport tried to attack from deep, working the ball left and right, where number 13 Luke Simpson beat his man and ran clear, but he aimlessly kicked the ball too deep which was easily dotted down. Stockport attacked again from the drop-out, winning a penalty, but Hertz didn’t find touch, with Jennings fielding the ball and putting a huge clearance kick into the Stockport half. Stockport’s clearance was then spooned into the hands of Macclesfield’s attackers; Babarinsa twisted and turned inside and out with the ball being spun out to Attis on the charge, who was forced into touch at the corner flag. Harrison stole the ball at the lineout and after 3 quick rucks right and left, Elliot Alson went over; Oliver kicked the conversion from 15 metres in, to finish the game 46 – 6.

MOTM James Oliver with ex Sharks Will Cliff and Jesse Coulson of Bach95, Matchday Sponsors

The game itself was far less one-sided than the score might suggest; Stockport had had long periods of possession in the red-zone, but failed to convert this into points, and their control of the scrum was somewhat disturbing for the Macclesfield faithful, who might have expected more from a big experienced Macclesfield pack. Macclesfield attacked throughout the match with a potency that the visitors could not cope with running in 6 tries. As Darren Lamond had said during the week: “We now want to bring our unique brand of rugby to the home supporters”; if that was the aim it was a resounding success; unlike watching England, one never quite knew what was going to happen next!

The win puts Macclesfield in 2nd place behind Blackburn, who have a superior points difference. Next week they take-on Manchester at Grove Lane in what will be a far more competitive contest; no doubt Tommy Taylor will be putting the scrum under the microscope during the week.

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