Northwich 13 – Macclesfield 66

By David Wilkinson


There was little hype but plenty of hospitality at the pre match lunch, with Chairman Andy Naylor not holding out much hope for the home team, unless Macclesfield had brought a junior 15; and so it proved to be. Northwich were without 3 of their overseas players, but a further 12 make up their squad, as I have dubbed it in the past, Northwich International. The re commissioned pitch looked to be in good condition, and combined with a fine weather prospect, it was all set for a good game of running rugby.

Harry Oliver crashes over for the first try

From the kick-off, there were no preliminaries, the Macc lads were straight into their running, gaining ground with every phase, and when a penalty took play deep into the home side’s territory the strike was on. The ball went from side to side and when it came back to Harry Oliver wide out on the left, he stepped inside the Full Back for the first score, 0 – 5 after 3 minutes.

After the restart Northwich put some good phases together, but at a scrum in an attacking position they felt the full power of the Macclesfield scrum, with their pack disintegrating under the pressure, it put Macclesfield back on the attack which they carried out with power and accuracy. When they won a penalty, 5 metres out, skipper James Oliver called for the scrummage. As the Macc pack drove for the line the ball was kicked out from the back of the scrum, the Referee had no hesitation in going between the posts and producing a yellow-card, however it was Prop Patrick Douglas that went to the bin, rather than the 9, it was 0 – 12 after 17 minutes.

Ollie Longmore dives through for the second from a driving maul

Northwich made good ground with two clever attacking kicks, but then over-threw at the lineout on 10 metres. When they did get the ball back, Macclesfield were penalised at the ruck, and the home team chose the kick at goal, from what was a good attacking position; given the score it seemed an odd decision. Macclesfield made their first shuffle of the pack bringing on Samir Tahraoui and Elliot Alston. Northwich had some more good possession but the Macc defence pushed them back, forcing a knock-on at halfway. Northwich were penalised at the scrum again, but while the Referee was playing advantage Terence Babarinsa took a knock to the head, requiring another reshuffle. The penalty gave Macclesfield an attacking lineout, caught in the middle by Josh DeGroot, the Macc pack, trundled toward the line in complete control, so much so that Ollie Longmore was able to have two bites at the cherry to make it 3 – 19 after 27 minutes.

Harry Oliver went off with a sore Achilles, replaced my Tom Morton and when Macclesfield attacked from the restart, they were penalised for holding-on; Northwich converted from 42 metres. Macclesfield again made good metres with every carry, John O’Donnell joined the line on the 22, beat the first player and when two closed in he flipped the ball to Alston to crash over, Charlie Attis converted from wide out to make it 6 – 26. Try as they may, Northwich could not breach Macclesfield’s defence, and were constantly pushed-back; the whistle blew for halftime on the halfway line. There appeared to be a lack of invention in the hosts’ attack, but the more worrying was the lack of ambition; taking two kicks at goal instead of trying to mount an attack in the red-zone, seemed to be a strange tactic.

John O’Donnell brushes off the last tackler to score his first try

The scoreboard was immediately ticking over after the restart, DeGroot charged down the clearance from the kick-off, the ball was quickly recycled, and three passes found John O’Donnell on the right, he skipped inside 3 defenders and carried the fourth over the line for his first, Attis made it 6 – 33. Northwich then had a good period of ball-in-hand pressure, and went through a good number of phases deep in Macclesfield’s half, but the defence was too solid again; a chip over the top was tried but Danny Martin was first to the ball. The goal-line drop out made touch, but the ball was over thrown again, and Macclesfield were able to clear.

John O’Donnell races in for another score

When Macc got possession back 40 metres out at a scrum, it was another well executed play; O’Donnell became the first receiver on the right, shipping it to Sam Adu who got outside his opposite number, O’Donnell looped around taking the scoring pass from Adu to get over in the corner. Attis, again, converted from the touchline, 6 – 40.

James Oliver’s footwork is too clever to stop Macc’s 7th try

There was now a good bit of invention from Northwich at the restart, with a grubber kick that just went the 10 metres, and they made good use of it, with some quick plays until a fumble gave the ball back to Macc at the scrum. After several plays Attis chipped to himself but was tripped on route, the penalty put Macclesfield on the 22; the home team stole the ball at the lineout and cleared deep, only for Phil Laing to run it straight back to the 22. A scrum resulted for an injured player on 10 metres, and the Macc pack trundled to the line, with good footwork form the Captain to make it 6 – 47.

Harding to Berry, who shipped it to Sam Adu for the eighth score

A couple of penalties put the boys in blue, deep into the home side’s territory, but not for the first time Northwich stole the ball at the lineout; they then attacked from deep with some superb passing, and when Macc infringed they got to 30 metres out. However they fluffed the lineout and gave the ball back to Macc, but a minute later the home-side were back in possession; but a long pass into midfield gave Harry Blackwell the chance to crash-tackle his opposite number, the ball spilled forward and Tom Morton fed O’Donnell, who created a big gap for himself before chipping to the try-line; the last defender blatantly blocked his path, O’Donnell pushed him out of the way to score but was penalised for his action. Invention now seemed to get the better of 10 Liam Batt, as he tapped the penalty and chipped the ball straight to his opposite number. Macc flew back into attack with charges from Blackwell, Harding and Berry; and with a lot of encouragement from the sidelines Adu got up into support, and was over, helped somewhat by the angle of Morton’s run! It was 6 – 54 with 15 minutes to play.

Look out Samir Tahraoui is coming at you!

Play continued around the middle of the park with Northwich trying all-sorts to get a break, and they got one, Macclesfield were caught offside and number 8 and Captain, Richard Dale, tapped quickly making 20 metres before chipping to the line, he gathered the ball, just short, and a quick recycle found the right wing with a clear run in for a score of 13 – 54. Northwich were awarded a scrum just outside their 22 but the Macc pack pushed them off their own ball, James Oliver picked up and charged for the line. The hosts infringed and from the 5 metre lineout Macc surged towards the line, James Oliver had become detached from the maul with the big Northwich Loosehead Prop attached to his back; no-matter, he carried him over the line as well, for the ninth!

Harry Blackwell’s mazy running from deep, sets up the play for the final score

Crossy crosses the whitewash for the 10th

Harry Blackwell caught the kick-off beating four players, and setting up the ruck on the 22, Macc attacked to the left, and when it came back right, Tighthead Prop, James Cross, had timed his run to perfection, running from deep, he beat the first defender in the 22 before beating the last player for power and pace; it was game-over with a 13 – 66 score-line.

Although Macclesfield lost two of their strike runners and goal-kicker, in Harry Oliver and Terence Babarinsa, it didn’t seem to affect the boys in blue’s ability to score, notching up their biggest win of the season.  There were lots of very good performances O’Donnell and Blackwell always found space, and Berry and James Oliver made lots of hard yards. Attis took on the goal-kicking challenge, slotting plenty from out wide, and Northwich were very impressed with the Martin’s speed on the ball. It was good to see DeGroot play the full 80, and he looked impressive in all facets of the game.

Head Coach, Darren Lamond, was more than satisfied with the performance: “We were too strong in every facet of the game, which enabled us to create quick-fire attacks. The game was very different to recent ones with very high intensity energetic phases. The back three did very well to cope with the changes, we said to just stick to the plan; I was very pleased with Laingy and DeGroot slotting in. Everyone should now be OK for Saturday; we just need to hope on the weather not freezing us out”.

Saturday is scheduled for the rearranged fixture at Priory Park against Kendal, kick-off 3.00 pm, updates on social media and the website.


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