Macclesfield 38 – Kendal 22

By David Wilkinson

 

For the third time of asking, the Kendal team finally departed from Mint Bridge to take on Macclesfield. The previous week they had taken Blackburn close, but several players had tickets at Twickenham, in all, they had 7 changes from the previous week, with 5 players drafted in from their second team. Macclesfield were without Brendan Berry, who will miss the rest of the season, John O’Donnell, HIA, and then touring with England Rugby League 7s to Australia, and Dan Percival away.

It was nip-and-tuck for the first 10 minutes with Kendal looking far from a scratch team, they were playing well, with the ball in hand, and breaking tackles. Macclesfield put together several line-breaks, but they came to nothing, and not for the last time they got turned-over on Kendal’s 22. Kendal were quick to counter through Right Wing Naki Saumaki who carried deep into the Macc half, the ball was quickly recycled, with their 10 spotting a gap behind the Macclesfield backline. His grubber kick was fielded by Left Wing Dan Shorrock, who had Full Back Ben Dixon on his shoulder to finish on the left, 0 – 7 after 12 minutes.

Kendal were straight back on the attack from the restart, and when 10, Mark Carruthers put up a bomb it was well fielded by James Oliver, but it was Kendal that were there in numbers first, with the Macc Captain being isolated; Carruthers kicked the points from 40 metres out.

Macclesfield were awarded a scrum from the restart, and even though the Kendal forwards were the bigger pack, including a Tight-head Prop that made James Cross look like a lightweight, they couldn’t hold the Macclesfield eight. A catch and drive from 7 metres was stopped just short, with the ball squirting out, Kendal cleared but Macclesfield were still in control. They attacked again switching from left to right, several times, until Tom Morton found James Oliver in the line on the left. James beat the first defender before passing to his brother to run it in; Harry finished under the posts for a 7 – 10 score-line.

Captain James Oliver puts brother Harry in for Macclesfield’s first try

Macclesfield pushed Kendal back in the scrum again, resulting in the visitor’s infringing; with the Referee playing on, Morton chipped for Sam Adu to chase. The last Kendal defender got their first, kicking the ball dead; Macclesfield chose the 5 metre scrum instead of the penalty, and Kendal were now on the rack! Quick ball from the scrum found Sam Adu joining the line, at speed, to beat the Inside Centre and score the first try; Macclesfield hit the front, 14 – 10 after 22 minutes.

Sam Adu joins the line and crashes through for Macclesfield’s 1st try

It was now all Macclesfield, although several very promising attacks faltered through a little inaccuracy, but the pressure never lessened. The pack attacked from a lineout in the 22, and after two phases the ball was spun out right, for a training ground move that involved Terence Babarinsa joining the line from deep and linking to Sam Adu on the Right Wing, who rounded the defence, 21 – 10 after 28 minutes.

Sam Adu rounds the defence after an excellent attack for Macc’s 2nd try

Kendal had a good period of possession in Macclesfield’s half, but they couldn’t puncture the home-team’s defence, even with some creatively constructed driving mauls.

The second half started with a bizarre score, Carruthers put in a big kick, diagonally to left-field; it was difficult to tell whether it was a clearance or an attacking kick from his own 22, either way it was coming down inside Kendal’s half on the 40 metre mark, with Left Wing Dan Shorrock jumping high against Tom Morton. It appeared as if Shorrock had knocked the ball on in the air, certainly that was what most of the Stand believed, but the Referee’s arm stayed down, with the ball bouncing back up into the Winger’s hands, to gratefully sprint away and score, 21 – 15.

From the restart Macclesfield worked their way up-field, via a series of penalties, until they had an attacking lineout in the 22. The catch-and-drive was perfectly executed, Kendal had no answer to the drive, with Ollie Longmore finishing, and Harry Oliver bagging the extras, 28 – 15, Macclesfield looked comfortably in control, with Morton putting in a good kick to Kendal’s 22, but the visitor’s had more than defence on their minds. A catch and drive from the lineout, caught the home-side napping, they splintered Macc’s pack, with replacement Matt Houghton sprinting off the back of the maul making 40 metres. The ball was quickly recycled with Macclesfield’s defensive line nullified with a big cut-out pass that was finished by Full Back Ben Dixon wide out on the left, and was converted well by Carruthers, 28 – 22.

Ollie Longmore perfrctly poised to finish an excellent catch and drive for the bonus-point

The following 10 minutes was somewhat scrappy; Kendal had a scrum on their 5 metre line that was looking ominous for them, considering the previous scrums. Macclesfield drove Kendal back on the put-in, but it was Macclesfield who were penalised for driving up; there was plenty of muttering again in the Stand. Harry Oliver would have a kick at goal, and Charlie Attis, now on for Morton, a drop-goal attempt, but neither was converted. Kendal came under a lot of pressure giving away penalties, and at the third, Danny Martin tapped to himself and darted 30 metres to the line, 35 – 22.

Danny Martin’s quick thinking and quick feet get him over the line for Macc’s 5th try

Both teams now looked like they were running on empty, Kendal were trapped in their 22, and running out of ideas, and when Macclesfield did get the ball again, it was inaccuracies that let them down. With 4 minutes to play Macclesfield won a penalty, and rather than go for the corner and a catch and drive, James Oliver opted for the points, it told a story in itself, 38 – 22. Attis had another long-range drop-goal attempt, and there was one more decent attack from the boys in blue, but it was snuffed out near the line, with the Referee calling time.

Kendal had looked good with the ball-in-hand, for a major part of the game, and they were always sharp at the breakdown, their second teamers had certainly stepped up to the mark to make it a real contest. For Macclesfield it was very much a Curate’s Egg, and after the Lord Mayor’s Show, or any other idiom that might fit-the-bill; but it was five points, to stay in the race.

Old boys -and a debutant

Assistant Coach, Tommy Taylor had been in charge on the day, as Head Coach Darren Lamond was being treated at Gleneagles (That’s the Hotel and golf, not medical). Tommy was quickly into rotating the bench, although this was somewhat curtailed when Josh DeGroot had to leave the field, thankfully it was only a dead-leg, so he should be back in the mix next week. This is what Tommy had to say, after the match: “Well it was a potential banana-skin avoided, and it keeps the pressure on Rossendale. The boys knew that they hadn’t played to the standards we set, but we were pleased that we could still get a win when playing badly. Next week should be different; the boys will be better, everyone should have fully recovered, mentally and physically”. As Tommy said, for an off day, it was good that we could still win by a 16-point margin.

Macclesfield will be back at Priory Park on Saturday to take on Leek. The Staffordshire moorlands team has recently slipped down the league, with three very narrow losses. They now find themselves in a dog-fight to stay up, and will be desperate for points. It is also the ex Players Lunch, so expect a big noisy crowd, kick-off will be 3.00 pm as usual.

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