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Macclesfield 30 Rugby Lions 12

The Blues kept their season alive with a confident second-half display that saw them score 21 unanswered points to take the points.

The Blues kept their season alive with a confident second-half display that saw them score 21 unanswered points to take the points.

The game, only declared on after a morning pitch inspection, saw Macclesfield kick off and an early break from Tony Howcroft led to a penalty, which Ross Winney kicked to put the home side on the scoreboard three minutes in.

However, continuing on from their nine-try demolition of ‘Hoppers the previous week, it was the Lions who scored next, a flowing move finished by winger Chris Murphy for a converted try.

Winney kept the home side in contention with another penalty but the Blues lost full-back Phil Macey with a dislocated shoulder, suffered in an unseen off-the-ball tackle.

Lions scored again at a line-out, driving over for Tristan Wati to claim the final touch. The conversion failed and Winney’s boot kept the hosts close with another penalty moments before a good approach and kick move almost gave Ollie Hewitt a try, but he was put into touch.

Rugby then lost centre Sam Viggers after a ‘professional foul’ and, from the subsequent penalty, the ball was quickly run but with an overlap beckoning, a knock-on saw the chance go begging.

The Blues applied more pressure but were unable to score and went into the break 12-9 down.

The second half began with another Winney penalty that levelled the scores and 20 minutes of Macclesfield pressure, with more strong breaks from Howcroft, made inroads into the Lions’ defence. Another Winney penalty made it 15-12 before the Lions lost try scorer Wati to foul play.

Winney then increased Macc’s lead with another penalty before the outstanding Howcroft was stretchered off with a suspected broken ankle.

The reshuffled Blues scored a try shortly afterwards when flanker Dan Baines touched down after a line-out drive.

Playing with increasing confidence the home side attacked as the game drew to a close but, with five minutes left, the game was put to bed when Chris Jones intercepted a pass in the Macc 22 and outpaced the defence over 80 metres to score.

The Winney conversion was the icing on the cake and Macc’s understandably happy coach, Steve Mannion, said: "I was delighted with the way the lads came back after last week and the players coming in did a superb job with Dan Brocklehurst and man-of-the-match Neil Keane outstanding as well as those who came off the bench.

"All credit to the forwards - we had a game plan and stuck to it but this is just one win.

"We need to battle to the end. I am gutted for Phil and Tony, whose injuries will probably keep them out until the end of the season - as if we didn’t have enough injuries to cope with."

 

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