Macclesfield Women remain undefeated against Ashbourne

By Annie James


This weekend Macclesfield Women’s 1st XV travelled over the hill to take on Ashbourne, a relatively new team who have only been together since September, however they already have a strong team and large numbers.

The match began with Macclesfield receiving the ball, with second row Louise Anderson gathering the ball and setting off at the Ashbourne defensive line; after a couple of further forward carries into Ashbourne’s strong defence, Vice-Captain Mary Thorp called for a ‘backs ball’. The ball was passed out to Outside Centre Chloe Newbigging who broke through the defensive line sprinting in from the halfway line for the first score, which was then successfully converted by Captain Mel Bramley. After a quick restart, Macclesfield unfortunately lost Wing Katie McCree to an injury, bringing on Catherine Rigby.  Macclesfield yet again used their backs’ pace, allowing Chloe Newbigging to make another break for the try line, and after being forced out to the wing she scored the second try of the match.

Macclesfield dominating the scrum

After a lot of work from both forward packs, in the middle of the pitch, Ashbourne regained possession and using their forwards well they held their shape in attack, with some strong runners testing Macclesfield’s defence. Macclesfield pressed up on the attacking line, preventing Ashbourne from gaining too much ground. Ashbourne then shipped the ball quickly out to the wing but a strong tackle from Mary Thorp brought the player to ground, Fullback Annie James quickly got over the ball getting a turn-over, and giving Macclesfield possession once again. The ball was moved quickly from a scrum out to the back line, giving Mary Thorp another run from halfway she broke through the tight defensive line scoring another try for the visitors; this was quickly followed by a consecutive try from Mary Thorp making another break, this time from the 22.

Ashbourne, came back into the game with some big runs, forcing Macclesfield back into their own half. Macclesfield’s defence was strong, eventually regaining possession, and after a couple of crash balls from Louisa Mackintosh and Sarah Naden, leading their pods, Mel Bramley shipped the ball out with Mary Thorp popping the ball to Inside Centre Sophie Barnett-Hubbard, putting her on the score-sheet with a try, which was converted by Captain Mel Bramley.

After the restart, Alyssa Harrison was brought on for her first time in a Macclesfield shirt.  Macclesfield were determined to keep hold of possession with less than 15 minutes left of the first half. The forward pods were holding strong in the rucks with Mandy Rosser and Louise Anderson both leading their pods into contact. The ball was then once again sent out through the back line for Chloe Newbigging to go over the line for her 3rd try of the match. This was quickly followed by a break from Estrella Mendez-Bryden on the wing, who was caught by Ashbourne’s fullback less than 10 meters from the try-line; the ball was taken-on a couple of times into Ashbourne’s defence before Sarah Naden went crashing through and over the try line taking them to half time.

Macclesfield were ready to take on Ashbourne for the second half, the rucks and running support lines to be their focus. Mel Bramley kicked-off, with a defensive line ready to apply pressure to the Ashbourne side; quickly gaining possession after being awarded a penalty, Captain Mel Bramley chose to take quick-tap-and-go, and made a quick dash, diving for the try line in the corner.

With 20 minutes left of the game, there was a change in positions with Annie James moving to Scrum Half and Teigan Shaw being moved to Inside Centre making their debuts in these new positions, Mel Bramley left the pitch with Alyssa Harrison returning to the forward pack as Flanker. Macclesfield ready to keep the pace up in their game, got set to receive the ball once again, with an impressive kick from the opposition’s 10, Annie James found herself under the high ball and making a run into the opposition’s defensive line, the ball was quickly rucked, by Julia Ashford, who had been in and out of tackles all match. Macclesfield got set in a strong attacking shape, after pushing back the defensive line, having sucked in their defence with crash-balls from the forward pack. Tiegan Shaw was now playing Inside Centre, with Sophie Barnett-Hubbard moving to Outside Centre, she made a strong carry down the middle of the pitch, and with a quick ball from the ruck to Sophie Barnett-Hubbard sending her straight through the defensive line to score her second try under the posts, Louise Anderson converted the extras.

Macclesfield spent the next 10 minutes defending in Ashbourne’s half, with the ball finally being turned-over to give Macclesfield the chance to use their attacking shape to their advantage. Hannah Green ran a hard line, but found herself falling just short of the try line, however with Louise Anderson still on her shoulder the ball was popped up sending Louise over the try line, which she then also successfully converted.

Chloe Newbigging making a break for the try line

With one last play of the match Macclesfield were ready to make it count with their forward pack set to make some big carries. Ashbourne came in strong keeping Macclesfield in their own half until a penalty gave them the chance to reset and get a plan of action. Macclesfield had pods set and after a few hard lines, carried by the forward pack, it was out to the wing were Chloe Newbigging found herself again with some space which led to her breaking through the defence and scoring the final try of the match under the posts with another successful conversion by second row Louise Anderson.

Overall the Macclesfield side has developed immensely this season, with players trying new positions and recruiting more and more players every week. Coach Paul Jakubowski said: “I’m really pleased with the shape and structure of the side; these are areas that we have worked hard on in training. This allowed Mary Thorp time to utilise the pace we have in the backs; as a unit the forwards were outstanding on a very heavy pitch.”

Macclesfield Women’s Team are now at home for the remainder of the season with their next match in two weeks on the 7th April against Sheffield Hallam.


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