Macclesfield 75 – Anselmians 5

By David Wilkinson

 

The last time Anselmians visited Priory Park, they made a mockery of their position in the league structure, beating Macclesfield convincingly in the Cheshire Cup. Saturday’s contest wasn’t about revenge, although it may have been in the minds of some of the players that played that day; 5 points was the target, and to continue the brand of rugby that the team and coaches have developed during the season.

Captain James Oliver on an early charge

Anselmians kicked-off deep, and Macclesfield immediately put it through the hands from right to left. Tom Jennings joined the line and raced away, passing to Jamie Harrison who was stopped 10 metres out, the ball was quickly recycled to the right where Sam Adu was stopped just short, the ball was quickly recycled again, and when it reached Samir Tahraoui he smashed through the defence to score between the posts, it had taken less than a minute for the first score, with Harry Oliver converting for the first of his twenty five points.

The visitor’s managed to get their hands on the ball following the restart, but when Macclesfield regained possession, they attacked again in their own half, Danny Martin found Jennings, who again beat several would-be tacklers as he weaved 50 metres to the 22. The ball went to the right, and when it came back left Dan Percival took it close before fast-hands from Tom Morton and Sam Adu found Jennings again at pace, who made no mistake for the second and a 14-point lead.

The visitors had a prolonged period of possession forcing Macclesfield to infringe twice that put Anselmians into the red-zone. They were patient, keeping hold of the ball and going through the phases until they managed to out-muscle Macc on the line, getting over for their only score of the game, 14 – 5.

Jamie Harrison scorches in for Macclesfield’s third try

Macclesfield pulled the trigger again from a scrum inside their own half wide on the left; when the ball reached Morton both Centres went on dummy runs with Jamie Harrison running a wide arc from left to right, he got outside of the Outside Centre and scorched the rest, running in from 60 metres, 19 – 5.

Samir Taharoui crashes through the defence for his brace of tries

Anselmians had another good period of possession, but Macclesfield’s defence was solid. At a scrum in the visitor’s half, Macc got a good shove on, that forced the Birkenhead team to wheel; from the  penalty lineout on the right Macc attacked again, going through the phases, and when the ball was recycled back inside Tahraoui was back on hand to charge for the line again, he was half-tackled, but quickly back on his feet to despatch the last two defenders for his second try, and a not often seen, a big smile, 26 – 5 after 30 minutes, and the bonus-point.

Another attack down the left from Jennings and Harrison took Macclesfield close, the pressure was really beginning to tell on the visitors, twice they infringed that gave Macclesfield a 5 metre lineout. James Oliver took it at the tail, and they charged for the line, it looked like Elliot Alston had scored but the visitor’s Hooker had collapsed the scrum, he was off for ten minutes and Macc were up to 33. Macclesfield got close again, but there were no further scores before half-time.

Anselmians infringed following the restart and Macclesfield were back in the red-zone with another 5-metre lineout. When the ball came out to Danny Martin, he cleverly side-stepped the Left Wing, who was standing at 10, and was over, Macc were out of sight, 40 – 5, with 38 minutes still to play.

John O’Donnell’s guile and pace is too much for Anselmians defence

All of the Finishers were now on; James Cross had already shown in a powerful scrum, and when Anselmians kicked deep, James O’Donnell, on for Jennings, didn’t need a second invitation, a powerful run took him into the visitor’s half, and when he was stopped he burst out of the tackle making another 20 metres. The ball was recycled to the right, and when it came back inside it was replacement Phil Laing’s turn to show his strong running, the ball came back left again with O’Donnell joining the line and carving through for yet another score, 47 – 5.

A show-and-go creates a clear path for Sam Adu’s pace to take him to the line

From the restart Phil Laing took-off like a Hare, so quickly he was isolated and when he was brought down lost possession. A minute later and Macc got their hands on the ball again, a quick phase from the ruck found Morton and Babarinsa, before Adu gave a little show-and-go, he was far too quick for the opposition, 54 – 5.

Another five points for Harry Oliver in his 25-point tally

It looked like Macclesfield were in again with another scorching run from Harrison, but Martin couldn’t hold on to his pass on the 22. Anselmians were now under pressure at the scrum, with Macclesfield in relentless mood. A series of phases set up an attack play for Macclesfield, a miss-move to Babarinsa with Morton on the loop. The Outside Centre jumped the gun, with Babarinsa giving a short pass to Harry Oliver, who was unchallenged as he raced in, 61 – 5.

There was an extended period of messy play with neither side getting any real momentum, Macclesfield’s lineout was miss-firing, and Anselmians had run out of players, now with only seven forwards they were flying backwards at every scrum. Macclesfield set up a good attack from their own half, with Harry Oliver making a good break, the ball was quickly recycled and John O’Donnell was there for another powerful finish and a 68 – 5 score-line.

MOTM Tom Burden climbs high to secure good ball at the lineout

There was just time for one more score, from a lineout on 30 metres, Macc ran the ball out, Harry Harding broke two tackles and sprinted 50 metres before slipping a pass out to Babarinsa, who fed O’Donnell, who passed back inside for MOTM Tom Burden to score the eleventh try, 75 – 5.

Dan Percival, Harry Harding, Ollie Longmore, James Oliver and Harry Oliver voted in North Rugby’s Team of the Year

Anselmians had been forced to make to make too many changes from the team that had beaten Penrith, on their previous outing, which showed in their organisation. In contrast Macclesfield’s game was well structured and executed, and when they pulled the trigger the back play was electric, and probably the best of the season to date. These were, Head Coach, Darren Lamond’s thoughts: “We had a good week, and a very good weekend; we started very well and kept the pressure on, they only had that one real opportunity, which fair play they took well. Other than that we kept the pace in the game for fifty to sixty minutes. The bench worked well for us, and we just had too much for them. It’s now all about conquering Cumbria, starting with Kendal away, we’ve said to the boys, challenge yourself, we have an 18 month unbeaten away-record to maintain. Selection is going to be tough again, there will be some disappointed lads, but the 2nd team will be playing this week”.

It seems highly unlikely now, that either Kendal or Penrith can arrest Macclesfield’s title challenge; but the title will come with its own financial challenges, to fund a sizable travel budget in National Two. The Club is on the lookout for local sponsors to partner with their successful community rugby brand, for more information contact the Rugby Club directly. Kick off at Mint Bridge is 3.00pm, come and lend your support for the penultimate game of the season.

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