Macclesfield produced a fine display at Priory Park to draw with Cambridge 26-26 in National League One. The Blues were unlucky not to come away with a victory after the away side were awarded a penalty try to level the game.
Macclesfield had injury worries ahead of the game with fly-half Ross Winney sidelined for at least a month with a dislocated shoulder, full-back Ben Couleck was absent with a hamstring strain and winger Josh Fowles was unavailable after being struck down with tonsillitis.
Cambridge were pre-season favourites for promotion but after a surprise defeat at Barking last week Macclesfield had reasons to be confident. During the early exchanges Cambridge looked to impose themselves on the game with superb handling skills and large periods of pressure on Macc’s defensive line.
It was the Blues who took the lead; Matt Simpson converted a penalty after five minutes to put the home side 3-0 up. Cambridge responded well and winger Jaco Du Toit carried the ball over for the first try of the game of just eight minutes. The try was converted and the away side took a 7-3 lead.
Macclesfield them found themselves in further trouble when centre Tony Howcroft was sin binned for interference. Cambridge attempted to take advantage but the Blues stood strong and played some superb rugby even though they were a man down.
Cambridge were impressive opposition and this showed in the build up to their second try. Fly half Dan Mugford carried the ball on an impressive run, which was then offloaded to James Knight who burst away from Macc’s defence to finish the move and give the away side a 14-3 lead.
The Blues continued to play and did not panic and as result this led to a fine try from Richard Hughes. Just before the break Simpson converted his second penalty of the game to make the half time score 11-14.
The second half saw Macclesfield grow in confidence and demonstrate some excellent rugby. An early penalty and try from Matt Simpson meant the Blues led by 19-14. The pressure continued and after a superb solo run from Tom Eaton Simpson ran in his second try of the game, he followed this with a conversion and Macc were looking like causing an upset.
Fly Half Mugford was closed down well by the Blues defence and was unable to exert the same influence on the game as he had done in the first half. The turning point came when Cambridge were awarded a penalty try following a period of sustained pressure, the momentum was now with the away side and this showed when in the final moments they scored the try that levelled the game.
Overall it was a superb display from Macclesfield and they showed that as a team they are more than capable of competing at this level.