Macclesfield ran out convincing winners as Hoppers lost their second straight away game of the season at Priory Park.
The hosts were able to dictate the tempo and control the game from the start as their impressive forward pack set a platform for victory.
For the third time this season Hoppers lost players to injury early in the game which disrupted their game plan as they were already forced to make a number of changes from the previous game.
Head Coach Garth Dew said; “When you come here you have to take your chances to have any chance of winning and we really bombed, we missed our chances, we made errors and you can’t do that against a team that’ll probably be in the mix at the end of the season.”
“Give credit to their big pack, who played well, but the scrums were a mess and they were guilty of pushing early and after the whistle which lead to a couple of injuries. I thought the set piece improved, our line-out was good and we did well in the scrum especially on our own ball”
“However, in key moments we just failed to execute, we missed touch from a kick which lead to a try for them; we missed a couple good chances in the second half when we did get behind them which could have made it a tighter affair.”
“It was good to see Zav back playing and he will have to be managed correctly and Jack Ward who will bring something different to the back line. Ryan Feeney made the step up from the second team and there are a lot of guys working hard there.”
Again the lack of ball stifled Hoppers chances as Macclesfield dominated possession and territory throughout. Hoppers defended manfully and certainly weren’t easy to break down but errors and penalties allowed Macclesfield set pieces from close range with all of their tries coming directly from or a couple of phases after a set piece.
Elliott Millar-Mills was the first to cross after a good scrum and surge to the line opened up space for the prop when the ball was quickly recycled.
Sean Taylor added a penalty as Hoppers enjoyed their best spell of the half soon after. However, a penalty kick to touch went dead and just minutes later the hosts scored from a catch and drive and a Ryan Parkinson score taking the sides in 12-3 at the break.
Hoppers failed to deal with the second half restart and scrum half Jordan Brookes snuck over after a line-out close to the line. Macclesfield were reduced to 14 when Marshall Gadd was sin binned and Hoppers could have taken advantage but couldn’t convert a couple of chances and were undone by the bounce of the ball and odd officiating on occasion.
Macclesfield secured the try bonus point when Matt O’Reagan was the spare man out wide to finish a flowing move and they rounded it off with Dave Marwick’s close range try after an uncontested 5m scrum.
Next week Hoppers welcome Caldy to Lightfoot Green as they play their fourth side from Cheshire in a row before back to back trips south with games against Stourbridge and Broadstreet.
Macclesfield 31-3 Preston Grasshoppers
Hoppers; 15.S Taylor, 14.Jordan, 13.Viney, 12.Woof, 11.Hough, 10.M Murray, 9.Moulding, 1.Mabaya, 2.C Taylor, 3.Madden, 4.Mackenzie, 5.Tomlinson, 6.Napier (c), 7.Lees, 8.A Murray
Replacements; 16.Wilkinson, 17.Mawdsley, 18.Feeney, 19.Ward, 20.Zavallis-Roebuck
The photograph at the top of the page shows the 1869 Club stopping to take lunch prior to the game. The photo is used with the kind permission of Catherine Forshaw.