Macclesfield 15 Caldy 13
As the encounter began something had to give, Macclesfield’s 100% home league record or Caldy’s similar 100% away record and in the end and despite scoring the only tries of the game it was Caldy who suffered as the Blues took another step towards their goal with a narrow victory in a game where, generally, defences were on top.
The game began with Macclesfield having the advantage of a strong breeze at their backs and from the kick off they might have scored but for a knock on in the move to the line. However the early pressure paid off when Skipper – Ross Winney – slotted over a neat penalty after just two minutes play.
After ten minutes play the Blues were perhaps fortunate when, following a high tackle, the resultant penalty was reversed after a Caldy forward retaliated and Winney was on hand to add the three to increase the lead. However, in a rare visit to Macclesfield territory it was Richard Vasey who slotted over a neat penalty to narrow the lead. At this time the big Caldy pack were disrupting the home forwards in the tight but it was the Caldy defence that stood firm as Macclesfield had three successive scrums in the five metre area without the break coming.
Play was generally tight but both sides were guilty of squandering possession by knock on or losing the ball in the tackle.
Winney extended Macclesfield’s lead with his second penalty after 29 minutes and just five minutes later added another as the home side pressed before the interval. Caldy were denied ground after a good break with a fine tackle by Matt O’Regan but Andrew Souter on the Caldy wing was always a threat when he had room to work.
The interval saw the Blues with a 12-3 lead but with the wind increasing we all wondered if that was going to be enough.
Caldy began the second half with some early pressure in the home 22 and when a penalty was offered they surprisingly opted for the kick and line out rather than three points but the home defence held out initially but Caldy were not to be denied after a jinking run by Gavin Roberts led to him feeding Shaun Woof who scored by the corner flag for the first try. The Vasey conversion was a coat of paint wide of the upright but Macclesfield would be asking questions of their defence after tackles were missed.
The re-start was claimed by Macclesfield but again a knock on spoiled the attack but minutes later it was Winney increasing the home lead with his fourth penalty of the afternoon when Caldy were guilty of hanging on to the ball illegally and at 15-8 ahead with 22 minutes still left for play it was all still to be done.
The Macclesfield defence held out well until five minutes into injury time when Caldy Lock – Paul Arnold – no stranger to the whitewash – went over for their second try but again the difficult conversion from the touch line sailed agonisingly wide of the sticks and the game was over.
In the end it was not a spectacular encounter with so much at stake or both teams and the wind, together with errors by both sides at crucial times, all had a bearing on the result of what was always going to be a close encounter but credit the home side for spending much time after the break, and against the wind, in Caldy territory which was far more than the visitors had managed in the first half.
Mulchrone, Simpson, Hughes, Howcroft, O’Regan, Winney & Eaton.
Mantell, Moss, Kent, Marsh, Owen, Jones, Baines & Keep.
Replacements: Robinson, Platt, Sayce, Fowles & Townsend.