Rossendale Preview

By David Wilkinson

 

Although there are 7 league games still on the fixture list, Saturday’s contest against Rossendale, at Marl Pits, is being billed as the title decider. Both teams have 71 points with each winning 14 games and 1 loss; Macclesfield’s to Rossendale, and theirs against Blackburn. Whilst Rossendale sit in top spot with a far greater points difference it is unlikely to come into play, in deciding which team wins promotion.

Back in October Macclesfield were not at their strongest, and if anything a little overwhelmed by the quality and reputations of some of the Rossendale international super-stars, allowing them an early lead that couldn’t be hauled back. That said they did score six tries to their eight, but the cultured boot of number 10 Lewis Allen made a big difference to the final score-line of 36 – 60. There are four changes to the team that played in the loss at Priory Park, which may make a difference, but probably more importantly is Macclesfield’s form, they are playing with confidence in their abilities that tries can be created from anywhere. Although Marl Pits has not been a happy hunting ground in the past, the Macc lads will have no fears of an away fixture, they haven’t lost one for over a year!

Ex Scottish international and player coach, Byron McGuigan is a feisty, fastidious fellow, always looking for an edge, playing mind-games, so much so that last time out he got his team to turn up at the café where the Macc lads were meeting for breakfast. This week he got their team of internationals to train with Sale FC, because they apparently have the same moves as Macclesfield – strange to say the least! Macclesfield, in contrast, have no top-tier international players, and train twice a week with the second team squad, up to 40 players, One Club mentality that creates proper team-ship. Sadly there are a good number of disappointed players on Saturday, but they will all turn-out for the 2s.

Head Coach Darren Lamond, was in a buoyant mood after Thursday night’s training: “The boys have had two excellent training sessions this week; they are desperate to put matters right, and are a little nervous, giving the context of the game, but are very excited and confident that they have the game to beat Rossendale. We have a game plan and will trust in our structures. Whatever the result, we will take away the positives and move on”.

There is a lot riding on this match, from what I am told the Rossendale team has been funded by a small group of sponsors with the singular desire of playing National Two rugby. If they don’t succeed in winning promotion, one wonders if the budget, which must be considerable, will be there for another season.

It is a 2.15 pm kick-off at Marl Pits, please try and get there to cheer the boys on, your support makes a huge difference, particularly at away games. The 18 selected are: 1. Dan Percival, 2. Ollie Longmore, 3. Samir Tahraoui, 4.Rhys Davies, 5. Harry Harding, 6. Brendan Berry 7. Tom Burden, 8. James Oliver – Captain, 9. Dan Martin, 10. Tom Morton, 11. Terence Babarinsa, 12. Harry Blackwell, 13. Harry Oliver, 14. Sam Adu, 15. John O’Donnell, 16. Simeon Meek, 17. Josh DeGroot, 18. Phil Laing

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