Macclesfield 2nd XV 38-22 Hoppers 2nd XV
The second team last won the Bateman Premier League in 2012 and their record over the last four years compares favourably to their rivals. Unfortunately the anomaly of the league format has counted against them and they’ve come up short despite their best efforts to repeat the feat. Saturday’s frustrating defeat against Macclesfield has probably put paid to their title aspirations for another season as Hoppers failed to produce a performance which the magnitude of the fixture demanded.
Macclesfield thoroughly deserved their victory as their forward pack dominated the battle of the breakdown and gave the Hoppers forwards a lesson which they would be wise to remember.
Hoppers will also be disappointed with their first up tackling although in fairness they faced a team laced with streetwise players who’ve gained plenty of experience in National League 1 over the past few seasons.
On a positive note the Hoppers back division looked dangerous and the hosts had their work cut out on the few occasions that Hoppers fashioned some continuity and quick ball.
Macclesfield got off to a flying start, scoring after four minutes after their pack drove a lineout over. They failed with the conversion but Hoppers had received an early warning. Shortly after there was lengthy break in play as the Macclesfield hooker sustained a nasty looking leg injury. All being well he shall enjoy a speedy and successful recovery.
Hoppers upped their game after the resumption with Moulding and Marshall prominent. Some sustained pressure saw the Macclesfield lock sent to the sin bin for a cynical infringement. The home side defended well but Hoppers put some width on the ball and Kendall scored an unconverted try on the left.
The hosts came storming back after a misjudged box kick and some strong rucking saw their prop burst over. The extras were good and Young’s men were 12-5 in arrears.
Things got worse for the visitors as they started to drop off tackles. The Macclesfield inside-centre, who carried strongly all afternoon, crashed through to score their third try. Hoppers were still in touch and looked dangerous in attack. However after thirty minutes they had already turned the ball over six times and a chance went begging.
Another turnover and a bought dummy saw the Macclesfield 12 score again. The conversion was good and the home side were good value for their 26-5 lead. Young’s men responded well and went looking for a foothold back into the game. Ward executed a well placed cross kick for Gargett to score and Hoppers had doubled their points tally. At half time Young’s men trailed 26-10 and it was evident to all those watching that they had a big job on their hands to get something out of the game.
They dominated possession from the restart and an early try would have certainly put doubt in the minds of the men from Cheshire. Unfortunately Hoppers couldn’t capitalise and against the run of play Macclesfield broke out, going from their own half to score again. 33-10 and Young must have feared for his side but credit should go to his young tyros as they maintained respectability.
Some sustained pressure from the visitors saw them drive a line out over and a try for replacement Luke Proctor. Ward couldn’t add the extras but Hoppers retained some hope of an unlikely co back.
These hopes were dashed when Luke Clitheroe was sent to the sin bin and Macclesfield breached the Hoppers line once more. They did though have the final say as the evergreen Fred Taylor was yellow carded for handling at the bottom of the ruck. Hoppers launched an attack and Moulding burst through before stretching athletically for the line. Ward added the extras and that was pretty much the final act although Hoppers felt aggrieved when Mabaya was forced to leave the field. The young Zimbabwean had worked tirelessly but was seemingly the victim of an off the ball punch which went unseen by the official.
Hoppers were well beaten and congratulations should go to Macclesfield who are the best side which Young’s men have faced this season. Hoppers can take solace from the fact they vanquished their hosts before Christmas whilst they were buoyed when news of the third team’s excellent victory against leaders Leigh filtered through from Lightfoot Green.
Hoppers have to pick themselves up for next week’s visit to Chester and will be hoping for an unpredictable set of results between now and the end of the season.