MACCLESFIELD visited Preston looking to kick-start their season with a good performance.
However, they were still unable to gain their first win, and had to be content with another losing bonus point.
The injury problems which have jinxed the team so far this season continued to disrupt their progress with impressive flanker SImon Welch suffering medial ligament damage, and prop and captain Rob Bieniasz being forced to leave the field with a strained back.
Facing a stiff breeze, the Blues were put under pressure from the ‘Hoppers pack, resulting in a converted penalty four minutes in.
Macc struck back when the ball was moved swiftly along the backs and good work from Tom Davenport and Chris Jones allowed Ollie Hewitt to crash over in the corner.
Ross Winney’s conversion attempt drifted wide of the posts but Macc had their noses in front.
The Blues continued to display a positive approach and, for much of the following 20 minutes it was Preston who had to soak up pressure. Winney was again unlucky when a penalty attempt struck the upright with 20 minutes gone.
After 25 minutes, disaster struck with Welch’s injury, closely followed by Bieniasz’s departure. This necessitated some rearrangements in the pack, with Pete Allen moving to flanker, Ben Latham to hook and Matt Collie to prop. The visitors did well to resist the scoring attempts of their hosts until the break.
The second half began with all the pressure coming from Preston, and an indiscretion from fullback Adam Fisher saw him sin binned.
Five minutes later Hewitt followed him, leaving Macc with only 13 players. Hoppers took advantage of their numerical superiority when winger Holland scored in the corner to put Preston in front.
The contest moved from end to end but when the Blues lost their own lineout and some excellent handling from the Hoppers backs resulted in a second try to increase the lead to 16-5.
Macc continued to strike back, and were sufficiently well organised in defence to prevent any further scores from the home side.
Their efforts were finally rewarded when scrum-half Joe Walker broke down the blind side and passed inside to Dan Massey.
Massey beat two men before powering over between the posts, giving Winney an easy conversion to make the score 16-12 and give Macc their third bonus point of the campaign.