Hull Ionians 21 Macclesfield 22
Ice cool Ross Winney ruined the day for Ionians and their vocal supporters with an excellent injury time penalty from 45 metres to seal this close victory for Macclesfield and in doing so he gained some satisfaction for the side who suffered a defeat at Brantingham Park in similar circumstances just two seasons ago.
On a blustery afternoon the Blues kicked off into the wind and began the game in good style with two good tries in the first fifteen minutes at which stage it looked to be one way traffic but, as we all know what looks differs from what happens!!
First on the board was stocky centre Tony Howcroft who broke clear after a period of controlled possession and an excellent off load by Tom Eaton who put him clear for a forty metre break to the line which Winney converted.
Just minutes later James Ferguson had a penalty opportunity for the home side which sailed wide and then along came Luke Fowles picked up a loose Ionians ball in his own 22 to outpace the defence to sprint in 70 metres for the try which Winney just failed to convert and at this stage it was plain sailing.
However Ionians steeled up and gradually got themselves into the game first following pressure in the Macclesfield 22 they had a five metre line out and the subsequent drive saw Danny Hague claim the score. Ferguson converted excellently from the touch line (12-7). There then followed a period of mid field play before – as the interval approached – Ionians scored two more tries to rock the Blues. First it was Hague again who got the final touch following a good break in mid field. Ferguson converted and Ionians took the lead and more agony was to follow for Macclesfield when slack defence allowed centre Rob Whittam through the gap to score and when Ferguson notched the two it was a healthy 21-12 that Ionians took to the half time talk.
It was essential that Macclesfield scored first in the second half and that is just what they did when, following a five metre scrum Chris Townsend flicked the ball up to Jon Keep who crossed to score near enough to give Winney a simple conversion and at 21-19 to the home side it was all to play for.
Macclesfield’s cause was not helped when Matt Owen got a yellow and was off for ten but credit both sides for trying to keep the game open and alive and there were scoring opportunities at both ends of the field but the defences held out.
As the game neared its finale Ross Winney had a drop attempt charged down and despite their pressure no points were forthcoming and whilst pressing in the Hull half well into injury time a pass was intercepted by Hull wingman Oli Marns but he was judged offside by the referee and this gave Winney the opportunity to seal the game.
His excellent pressure kick sailed between the uprights to seal a narrow victory but direct from the restart Ionians got possession and a long range Ferguson drop attempt fell short and the final whistle blew to the relief of the travelling supporters.
After the match Geoff Wappett was in reflective mood saying, “We started the game extraordinarily well and then had to hang on until half time having surrendered the imitative as their confidence rose but we slogged it out for the win. Players accept things got a little sloppy and we made it easy for Ionians to deliver “
Winney, Simpson, Hughes, Howcroft, Fowles, Eaton & Townsend
Mantell, Moss, Kent, Marsh, Owen, Jones, Stewart & Keep.
Replacements: Devine, Platt, Lear, Sayce & O’Regan