GUSTY PERFORMANCE PUTS MACC ONE STEP AWAY

Kendal 10 – Macclesfield 45

By David Wilkinson

 

As the busy bus settled down for the long journey up to Kendal, the light-hearted mood of the players soon switched to shrieks of horror, as the players were terrorised by a gigantic bumble bee. Up stepped flying Wing Jamie Harrison to save the day, and the bee, despatching it through the skylight! No one had been stung until the fourth minute of the contest, on Kendal’s rain and wind-swept muddy pitch; Macclesfield had had all of the early exchanges until a scrum was awarded to Kendal on 40 metres. Number 8 Steve Nelson picked up at the base of the scrum and set-off for the line, he showed excellent pace and always had the edge on the defence, scoring wide-out on the right, and converted by Aaron Stephens.

The big crowd looks on as Sam Adu’s clever footwork confuses the opposition before his first score

Macclesfield won a penalty from the restart that resulted in a 6-metre lineout; Rhys Davies went on a good charge, and when the ball came out to the left, Tom Morton found Sam Adu looping around from the right wing, he had enough pace and room to arc around the defence. Morton converted well from the left wing against the elements, 7 – 7 after 8 minutes.

Macclesfield continued to have the majority of the possession, even though they were playing against the elements their kicking was better, but several good attacking situations came to nothing through dropped passes and lost lineouts. A rare visit into Macclesfield’s half saw the Cumbrians go through several phases, until Macclesfield were caught offside; Stephens converted the penalty to take a 10 – 7 lead after 29 minutes.

Kendal attacked again from the restart, and a grubber kick would win them a lineout in the 22. Their rolling maul from the lineout was good, and it looked like Nelson was over for his second, but he fumbled it forward as he went over. The Macc pack showed their steel at the scrum wining a penalty and clearing the immediate danger, but again lost the lineout. Terence Babarinsa attacked from deep down the left, but when stopped Macclesfield were penalised at the ruck, which was repeated on the right from a Sam Adu charge. Kendal’s 7 Alistair Thompson, broke the defence on halfway and when he passed to Left Wing Dan Shorrock it looked like a try was on, but Danny Martin put in a great cover tackle, before Referee Ollie King blew for half-time. It had been a difficult half for the Cheshire visitors, the elements hadn’t helped but they had made far too many mistakes.

Elliot Alston crashes though the Kendal defensive line for the first second half score

With the second half underway an infringement put Macclesfield into the Kendal half with a lineout, where a short throw to Davies at 1, and back to Ollie Longmore put Macc close. A series of rapid rucks got the visitors to the try-line on the left, but when the would-be scorer was stopped, the Referee awarded a penalty to Macclesfield, they wisely chose to scrummage. James Oliver charged from the base, and after three quick rucks, Elliot Alston joined the line at pace, crashing through two tacklers to score, and Macc hit the front 10 – 14.

Tom Morton smiles for the camera as he finishes Macclesfield’s third try

Macc were back on the attack from the restart, Oliver charged, and when the ball came out to Babarinsa he beat the first man and made good ground before drawing the last man in the tackle and passing to Morton, supporting on the outside. It was a walk-in for Tom, with time to smile at the cameras as he dived over for the 10 – 19 score-line.

Terence Babarinsa races in to finish Macc’s 90 metre attack

The conditions were now very much favouring Macclesfield, and Morton was winning the kicking battle, with John O’Donnell running back Kendal’s kicks. From a short Kendal kick an attack was set up from right to left, Babarinsa broke the line feeding Harrison who sped away, but when he was stopped his isolation forced a penalty. Kendal were struggling to get out of their half, but a penalty on their 40 metre line looked like it would bring some relief, but Stephens’s kick didn’t make touch finding O’Donnell 10 metres from his line. An audacious dummy, to no one, got him past the on-rushing defender and sprinting up the tramlines on the right, a pass inside found Harry Blackwell, who in turn had Babarinsa on his inside, the score was as good as it gets, the length of the pitch in 14 seconds, 10 – 26.

Phil Laing takes it close to set up the fifth try

John O’Donnell finishes off the fifth try

Macclesfield now had the bit between their teeth, wave after wave, with Blackwell and Babarinsa causing havoc, twice Babarinsa span out of tackles, taking play to 5 metres, but in their eagerness Macc were penalised at the ruck for sealing-off. Stephens could only reach the 22 with his penalty, and when James Cross stole the ball at the lineout, Kendal were back under-the-pump. Phil Laing took it close, and when the ball was whipped out to the right, O’Donnell made no mistake from close-range, 10 – 31.

Harry Harding engages the opposition as the forwards lay the platform

Charlie Attis, now on for Tom Morton, cleared deep with a penalty to Kendal’s 22, where Macclesfield set up camp, the conditions got even worse for Kendal, with their kicks making no distance. Macclesfield put together a good lineout maul, but Kendal’s Matty Houghton got his hands on it to win a scrum; but when he hooked it Kendal were driven backwards over the line. With a scrum to Macc on 5 metres, the score was almost academic, a controlled shove with Captain James Oliver dabbing down, 10 – 38.

Harry Blackwell’s extrovert finish for the seventh and last try

Kendal had a good period of possession but couldn’t make any penetration against Macc’s defence, and eventually knocked-on. Again they couldn’t contain the Macc pack, giving away a penalty, and the visitors were back in their 22. The Forwards had a bit of a rumble at the lineout, and when it came to Attis, the move was on; Babarinsa on the dummy inside line and Blackwell taking the crash-ball from a no-look pass, his angle taking him between the posts with a racing-dive finish, it was a fitting way to finish the game, 10 – 45.

It was the proverbial game-of-two-halves, with Macclesfield making the most of the conditions and their possession, scoring 38 unanswered points in the second half. Kendal had been excellent hosts on one of their busiest days of the season, with their players getting some consolation, winning the beer boat race!

Head Coach, Darren Lamond, was delighted with the final score, these were his thoughts after the game: “It’s a shame the weather was so unpleasant, it was a big day for Kendal, and it would have been good to see more supporters around the pitch. After the first half, we didn’t panic, it was a relaxed changing room; we knew our game would look after itself with the second half conditions on our side. The final result was well deserved; it was 30 minutes of destructive rugby (In view of the RFU camera crew). The boys were very proud of their 100% away record; it may be many a year until that is repeated. Focus now is all on Penrith, we will do our background work, and get it right at training. The boys will get Thursday off this week with the usual build-up leading to the 6th.”

It will be a very big day at Priory Park on the 6th April, the game is preceded by a sell-out President’s Lunch, so expect a big crowd. We need a result against Penrith, to guarantee promotion into the National league, so your support is much needed, it makes a huge difference to the players; and if we gain promotion the Club will be in much need of more sponsors, and are drawing up opportunities to fit all budgets, please get in touch if you think that you can support.

Images courtesy of Andrew Field Photography

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