HOPPERS 19-11 MACCLESFIELD
“Back to winning ways after four frustrating losses – a good win against a good side” was Coach Paul Arnold’s verdict after a hard-fought victory. “I was pleased that, after Macc scored their try, we didn’t panic and controlled the final quarter of the game, although it was disappointing that we didn’t get the bonus point.”
Hoppers were slow out of the traps and lost their first lineout – a recurring problem area that needs attention – and a high tackle as early as the 2ndminute allowed Tom Morton to put the visitors three points ahead.
With the greasy ball creating handling errors from both sides, Hoppers at last started to get their act together and an excellent break and run from Rueben Birch, set up some goal line forward pressure and a quickly taken tap penalty put Luke Procter in for an unconverted try.
The conditions led both No.10s to adopt a kicking game and at the second attempt Morton added another penalty to regain the lead.
On 30 minutes, Tom Davidson’s long penalty into the away 22 was followed by more forward drives and Procter was in for his second try and this time the kick was good.
Macclesfield then followed suit with a penalty that found touch a yard from the home goal line and a strong drive from the lineout seemed destined to produce a score but a knock on and referee Chandrachud’s halftime whistle saw a relieved Hoppers go in 12-6 up at the break.
At the restart, Hoppers’ backs squandered a clear overlap when Conor Trueman was tackled just short of the line but, when the ball was released from the ensuing ruck, Alex Hurst (pictured above), making his first start of the season, was in at the corner and Davidson’s excellent kick made it 19-6.
A poor reception of the kick off, gifted Macclesfield possession and territory and some good handling in the backs almost put them in at the corner but play was brought back for a previous infringement and a resulting 5 metre penalty lineout. For once the visitors’ failed to gain possession and the overthrow was gathered by the defence and the ball cleared.
Gathering a loose ball, Tyler Spence made ground and some good hands again threatened a score but the move again broke down through a poor final pass, wasting the overlap.
But Macc were not going to roll over and when Hoppers lost another lineout a deft grubber through saw centre Jordan Davies collect and touch down in the corner but the kick which would have reduced the margin to just 6 points sailed wide.
With 15 minutes left on the clock, some good work in the centre by Sam Stott, tackling his man in goal, led to a series of 5 metre scrums and Hoppers camped on the away line but Matt Lamprey’s drives for the line were well defended and the bonus point try proved elusive.
Report by Ken Moore, photo courtesy of Mike Craig