Macclesfield vs Chester
Chester master the wet at Macc
Macclesfield 10 v Chester 24
8th September 2018
This was a well-earned away win at a wet and windy Priory Park. The match began in an absolute downpour and, although the rain abated a little, it continued to fall from start to finish. Inevitably, this greatly influenced the character of the game with handling a bit of a lottery and possession almost a liability at times.
Macclesfield kicked off with the wind at their backs, while Chester faced the worst of the afternoon’s weather. Nevertheless, it was the visitors who came closest to scoring early on when a turnover and a patient build up allowed prop Rhodri Parry to gallop 30 metres before being hauled down near the home try line. Unfortunately the attack broke down with a knock on – the fourth in the first five minutes! Eventually, Macclesfield were able to use their territorial advantage to score first, an offside penalty from fly half Tom Morton. However, Chester came back strongly from the restart with a series of powerful forward carries deep in the home 22, but Macclesfield’s defence held out, forcing another knock on with the try line beckoning.
By now Macclesfield had realised their best bet was to use the elements, put boot to ball and try to force defensive errors. On 24 minutes, with the rain now teeming down, this strategy paid off. First a Chester defender knocked on on half way. Then, from the ensuing scrum, Tom Morton put up a high kick and the bounce fell straight into the hands of Macclesfield’s Jordan Davies who crossed for a converted try.
At 10-0 down Chester were still well in it, given that they had the benefit of the wind to come. Both fly half Callum Bennett and full back Josh Morris had got the measure of the conditions and were kicking well both for territory and to force Macclesfield errors. Furthermore, the visitors’ pack was beginning to do damage to the home lineout and to dominate the gain line. This paid off in the 33rd minute when they first stole a Macclesfield defensive lineout and then forced a penalty after a series of big carries, notably from Guy Ford at No.8. This led to a Chester 5 metre lineout from which the pack drove quickly infield to cross for a try converted by Josh Morris.
By the time the sides came out for the second half the rain and wind had dropped a little, but it was clear that a three point lead was unlikely to be enough for the home side. Within five minutes the scores were even thanks to a penalty from Josh Morris. Three minutes later he converted a try by Rhodri Parry following a series of pick and goes from the pack to put the visitors in front 10-17.
From this point on Macclesfield were never really in the game. They were playing with less and less ball and found it difficult to break Chester’s territorial stranglehold. Their scrum remained a powerful weapon but it was insufficient to influence proceedings. Their kicking from hand was less accurate than Chester’s. As their frustration increased they tried to run slow ball out of defence, which predictably led to errors and pulled Chester back onto them. A well-placed box kick by their scrum half Jonny Mason did create an attacking opportunity for centre Harry Blackwell, but a knock in the Chester 22 snuffed it out.
The match was finally put to bed in the 65th minute. Kyle Joseph and Pete Rees made a long break from midfield following a loose Macclesfield clearance. The ball was first moved left and then the forwards again used pick and goes to carry over the Macclesfield line for a try very well converted by Josh Morris. Chester came close to scoring a bonus point try twice before the final whistle, but the elements got the better of them. All in all well deserved and quite dominant away win.