Wharfedale 14 Macclesfield 32
All the predictions of an easy win for Wharfedale were blown away by half time. Dale had the advantage of the strong wind and the slope but went in at half time leading by only one converted try to nil. Macclesfield showed great strength of character in the first forty minutes tackling hard and refusing to buckle.
The visitors came out in the second half and showed Wharfedale how to use the conditions; how to control the ball, how to support the runner and how to run a line out. Dale’s line out started well but fell apart badly in the latter stages whereas Macc’s went from strength to strength.
Wharfedale’s try in the first half was from a poor clearance taken by James Doherty who put Oliver Cicognini in at the corner. Jamie Guy made light of the conditions and landed a superb conversion from just inside the touch line. The try was just reward for Dale as they dominated at the scrum and had absorbed some strong running from Macclesfield. To say the try was deserved was obvious but still only came after a lost 5 metre line out by Dale and then Macc not clearing properly.
The rest of the half was a dour affair. There were flashes of brilliance from a sleepy Dale team. There was a line break from Jamie Guy, a superb run from Huw Morgan, a catch and drive from the pack that went 25 metres and nearly took them over the line but this could not disguise a stuttering performance as these moments were all too brief and isolated incidents in a dismal first half display.
The first half finished with Wharfedale, reduced to 14, after a late tackle saw Adam Howard sent to the sin bin, being pushed back and having to defend their own line.
Max Smith opened the scoring for Macc in the second half and Thomas Eaton’s conversion brought the scores level. Dale worked through the phases after receiving the kick off and had a scrum just outside their own 22. Macc won the ball against the head and, with the crowd baying for a knock on, were allowed to run the ball and create the opening for Smith to score.
Wharfedale bounced back when Lloyd Davies ran the ball in from 35 metres and added the conversion. This was a piece of good fortune which came from another lost Wharfedale line out. Macc failed to clear and Davies punished their mistake.
From then on a lacklustre display turned into apathy. Macc sensed their 3rd win of the season and went for it. Wharfedale aided and abetted Macclesfield wherever possible.
The visitors’ restart was taken by Josh Burridge who ran strongly out of defence but the attempted break out was halted by a Wharfedale knock on.
Good running from the Macclesfield backs, growing evermore confident, created holes in the Green line and made the break look easy for Matthew King to score under the posts.
Two successful penalty kicks from Eaton took the visitors into a six point lead.
Matthew O’Reagan and Max Smith added two more tries for Macclesfield with Eaton converting the first to give the relegated side a thoroughly deserved bonus point win.
Vitriolic comments poured down from all corners of the ground on Dale’s performance. The team, used to being heartily cheered down the tunnel, walked off to a strange silence. Where did this performance come from? There could be no excuses for what was Dale’s worst performance of the season. Macclesfield have to be congratulated for the way they played, especially in the second half. It was Wharfedale that looked like the relegated side!
Let us hope that this was a one off. This is basically the same team that has fought long and hard since stalwarts like Rob Baldwin and Richard Rhodes suffered long, season ending injuries way back before Christmas, This is basically the same team that has seen us looking at a 20th season in National Division 1.
Your reporter was informed that players were close to tears after the game. We need to get behind them and grow with them and finish the season with a flourish.
A selection of photographs appears under the Gallery tab near the top of this page.
Wharfedale: Lloyd Davies; Huw Morgan, Cameron Hudson, Tom Davidson, Oli Cicognini (Josh Prell 70); Jamie Guy (Matt Dudman 23), James Doherty (c); Matt Beesley (Chris Steel58), Dan Stockdale, Jake Armstrong (Joe Altham 65), Adam Howard, Simon Willet, Jim Mason (Tom Burridge 58), Dan Solomi, Josh Burridge.