MACCLESFIELD came out on top in a hard-fought Cheshire derby thanks to an excellent second-half display which combined attack with sturdy defence.
The Blues ensured that Caldy’s interval lead was short lived and, as Sale’s Jets had done to the Blues the previous week, prevented the home side from adding to their half-time tally.
Caldy took the early advantage following pressure in the Macclesfield half when Richard Vasey kicked them into a three-point lead after eight minutes play, and Macclesfield were under extreme pressure until just after the half-hour when Ross Winney kicked a penalty to equal the scores.
The hosts could perhaps feel hard done by not to have added to the scoreline but the Blues defence held firm until into first-half injury time when a second Vasey penalty increased the Caldy lead.
Deeper into injury time a break by the home side – with a hint of a knock on, or maybe a Macc hand – saw centre Gavin Roberts cross the line for the game’s first try, which was converted by Vasey to give the home side an 11-3 interval lead.
The Blues came out for the second half charged up and it was imperative that they scored first – and score they did in fine style when fly-half Tom Eaton, with superb sleight of hand, put centre Tony Howcroft in the clear on a 40-metre break before slipping the scoring pass to his centre partner Richard Hughes who crashed over. Winney added the two and, at 11-10, it was very much game on.
Winney added a penalty five minutes later to give the Blues the lead for the first time and it was a lead not to be denied as Winney struck his third penalty after 55 minutes following concerted Macclesfield pressure.
With just minutes left for play it was the turn of Caldy to lay siege to the Macclesfield line for a period of concerted pressure which must have seemed an eternity for the travelling supporters.
However the Blues defence held firm and as the game entered injury time a penalty relieved the pressure and the game ended in victory for Macclesfield.
It was an excellent game on the part of both sides who were a credit to Cheshire rugby on the day.
For Macclesfield the back row took the eye with Evan Stewart particularly impressive and at the heart of everything, along with the abrasive lock Alan marsh who took everything to Caldy.
The Blues front row also came in for praise for the way they stood tall in the face of serious early pressure.