Lymm 32 – 36 Macclesfield
1st Team Match Report | Saturday February 18 2023
League leaders lose last-minute thriller
League leaders Lymm hosted Macclesfield at a blustery Beechwood with both teams on the back of impressive 50 point victories; Lymm having beaten Wirral 51-26 the previous week and Macc arriving off a 58-17 victory over Kirkby Lonsdale. Macclesfield are much improved after a slow start to the season and yet another Cheshire derby would prove to be a physical and feisty affair. For Lymm, Callum Morris returned at scrum half with Ben Simpson dropping to the bench and, in the absence of Rhys Lilly and Oli Higginson, both so dangerous the previous week, Ed Morris, Harry Martin and Joe Watson made up the backrow with Ali Sutherland covering from the bench.
Macclesfield began the 1st half brightly with their physical, direct style challenging the Lymm line-speed. They dominated both possession and territory for the opening ten minutes with Lymm forced to defend several 5m lineouts which were repelled by the Lymm pack. With further pressure mounting, a score looked imminent but it went Lymm’s way; very much against the run of play and in very bizarre style. A wide Macclesfield pass five metres from the Lymm line was intercepted by Morris (Callum) who hoofed a clearance deep in Macc territory which was pursued by the flying Beesley. The league’s top try scorer tackled, competed and won the penalty with Macc scrambling back desperately. Morris tapped quickly and flung a wild, wide pass to the left where it was intercepted but dropped by an offside Macc player. The ball bounced into the hands of the one man all Lymm supporters hoped it would – not the finisher supreme Beesley but prolific hooker Rob ‘Moose’ Makin. Only one problem remained: distance to the try line. Six possibly seven metres. Nearly treble his usual scoring distance. Sensibly, he found Scott Redfern thundering up in support on his left who finished. Lymm 7 Macc 0 after 13 minutes and the inevitable Nolan conversion.
Scott Redfern scores Lymm’s 1st Try
Macc’s response was instant. Miscommunication from the kick-off in the Lymm ranks allowed the ball to land, bounce out and force a tricky lineout from their own 5m. They claimed the lineout but a knock on in the carry by the clearance pod gifted the ball to Macc who gathered, recycled and barged over through their inside centre Barbarinsa whose powerful running was a feature of their game. Lymm 7 Macc 7 after 15 minutes and very much even. Lymm’s response was just as quick as Macclesfield’s. From a lineout on halfway, Harry Martin, who was prominent throughout, punched up in midfield, the ball was recycled back blind through the hands of Woods to Shard. Shard’s delayed pass found Jennings sweeping round and the powerful winger did the rest, blasting home from 50m out whilst seeing off three Macc defenders on his way. Another Lymm score from their dangerous set play arsenal and an outstanding finish from one of the season’s stand-out performers. Lymm 12 Macc 7 with the difficult conversion missed into the wind.
Paddy Jennings scores Lymm’s 2nd Try
The remainder of the half then settled into a pattern; Macclesfield controlling most of the possession and territory using their big, effective carriers with Lymm’s defence, Ed Morris rabidly conspicuous, fronting up to the task.
Ed Morris halts a Macc attack
With just less than half an hour played, Macc went ahead. Some solid carries off a midfield scrum around 40m out laid the platform for a long, wide pass, a tactic which uncharacteristically caught Lymm out multiple times, to winger Adu who made ground down the left wing before passing inside to full back Jennings for the score. Lymm 12 Macc 14 after half an hour and momentum very much with the visiting side. Almost immediately, they were back in Lymm territory. A well-weighted kick from a scrum on halfway bounced horribly for the covering Nolan who did well to regather metres from his own line and was assisted by some excellent clear out work. Unfortunately, a bad pass from the breakdown was knocked on and gifted Macc a 5m scrum. The ensuing scrum saw Lymm penalised for an unconfirmed offence and, when Macc again opted for the scrum, Barbarinsa ramped on to the carry, found a soft shoulder and was over for his 2nd try just to the left of Lymm’s posts. Lymm 12 Macc 21 shortly before half time.
The remainder of the half saw no further scores but both teams had their opportunities. Macclesfield missed a relatively kickable penalty from around 35m, a Lymm penalty from a similar distance was horribly sliced dead by Callum Morris and a Lymm breakaway opportunity was thwarted when, having forced a turnover in contact, an outrageous James Kimber offload found Beesley with room to run down the right edge who, unusually for him, kicked the ball straight into touch. Half time – Lymm 12 Macc 21 with the home side needing a response in both collision and communication whilst Macclesfield, direct, well organised and aggressive, were good value for their lead.
HT 12 – 21
Much like the Sandbach game weeks previously, Lymm’s 2nd half response was immediate. With their 1st possession, a solid scrum on halfway, tight head Kieran O’Callaghan on in place on an injured Matty Hand, the ball was shifted to James Kimber. Kimber’s beautifully disguised pass found Redfern on a powerful angle who broke the line. Half stopped, he passed to the supporting Beesley on his left who scorched under the post after bamboozling two Macc defenders with his footwork. Another 1st phase try for Lymm and another for Beesley. Lymm 19 Macc 21.
Nathan Beesley scoring Lymm’s 3rd Try
Momentum, as it would throughout the game had swung, and Lymm took the lead directly from the restart. Joe Watson, on his 99th appearance in Lymm colours, gathered and powered his way 40m in and out down the right touchline. He was dragged down just inside the Macc half and they offended at the ruck giving Nolan a shot at goal from roughly 40m. Duly dispatched and Lymm had the lead – Lymm 22 Macc 21 with only minutes of the 2nd half gone.
Joe Watson on the attack
To their credit, Macclesfield retorted and forced Lymm back on to the defensive with several defensive scrambles halting the momentum of the visitors who continued to threaten in attack with direct running and offloads. Lymm themselves were somewhat erratic and failed to control what little possession they did have. Very much against the run of play, they would strike again from deep. After multiple Macc phases in Lymm territory, a knock on gave the home side a relieving scrum. Watson lifted to Morris and the mercurial scrum half broke blind, accelerated through a half tackle and away to a 3 v 1 with the fullback. His pass to Kimber was behind the centre, stopping him slightly, so he unselfishly moved it onto Beesley for his 2nd score under the posts. Lymm 29 Macc 21.
Nathan Beesley en route for his 2nd try
With an 8-point lead, and news of 2nd place Blackburn’s loss at Sandbach, filtering into the crowd, the game looked in hand for the hosts. Macclesfield however, were going nowhere. They continued to pressure Lymm, forcing multiple penalties, some baffling (including one truly inexplicable charge down decision) some very much warranted, and were deservedly rewarded when number 8 James Oliver powered over blind from a 5m scrum after sustained pressure. Lymm 29 Macc 26 with 15 minutes to go. They would reclaim the lead in familiar fashion. Another long, looping pass, caught out the Lymm edge defence and winger Adu finished well in the left corner holding off the attentions of Beesley and Nolan. Lymm 29 Macc 31 with a missed conversion and Lymm in desperate need of some possession with ten remaining.
Lymm defending another Macc attack
With 70 minutes gone and little to separate the two teams, there was still plenty of drama to come. After Lymm were bizarrely penalised for jumping across the lineout (on their own ball) and lost a promising field position, the Lymm scrum, solid throughout against a heavy unit, responded. Attacking the Macc put in, they produced a huge drive and won a penalty 22m out and 15m in from the touchline. A true pressure kick. Nolan, ice cold as always, banged it right down the middle. Lymm 32 Macc 31 with one final twist to come.
Once again, Macclesfield roared back. Multiple phases of attack, off the back of a poor Lymm exit, resulted in a Lymm penalty for hands in the ruck. Opting to kick for the points, directly into the wind, they missed wide left to the relief of all watching home fans. The relief however, was short lived. Lymm cleared deep in to Macc territory which was gathered and ran back. An excellent line-break took the ball deep within Lymm territory and it was recycled quickly with the Lymm defence scrambling frantically. A sure try was stopped by an outstanding Kimber cover tackle but, from the resulting ruck, a Macc pick-and-go got the ball over the line as time expired. Cue huge celebrations from the visitors. Full time – Lymm 32 Macc 36.
DOR Adam Fletcher commented after match “Really disappointed to lose with the final play of the game but in all honestly, Macc probably deserved it. After 60 minutes, we were in control of the game and should have seen it out. There was a strange decision by the referee that swung the momentum towards Macc. We never got that momentum back and struggled to get a foothold. All credit to Macc – they took their chances under extreme pressure. On a positive note, we came away with two points and extended our lead at the top of the table. We now know what we need from the final games.”
A chastening day for the hosts as better game management in the latter stages should have been enough to see them home. In contrast, Macclesfield’s doggedness and attacking intent earned them a victory that could easily have been lost after Nolan’s late penalty. Two bonus points for Lymm ensures them remain top of the league and 5 points clear of Blackburn who failed to get any points losing 14 – 22, at home to Sandbach. Next week, Lymm face a tricky trip Stockport knowing that the fate of the league is in their hands.
Team: 1. Gavin Woods (102), 2. Rob Makin* (44), 3. Matty Hand* (80), 4. James Yates* [Capt] (94), 5. Sam Dickenson* (13), 6. Ed Morris (7), 7. Harry Saxton-Martin (27), 8. Joe Watson (99), 9. Callum Morris (10), 10. Tom Shard* (105), 11. Paddy Jennings* (24), 12. Scott Redfern (105), 13. James Kimber* (83), 14. Nathan Beesley* (47), 15. Cormac Nolan* (207), 16 Kieron O’Callaghan* (19), 17. Ali Sutherland (77). 18. Ben Simpson* (14).
( ) = number of Lymm First XV League appearances.
* Former Lymm Colt’s Academy/M&J player. 11 in the 18 man squad today.
A big thank you to our Referee, Mr Michael Hurdley, RFU Midlands Group, we hope that you enjoyed your visit to Lymm.
Next week, Lymm are Away to Stockport, KO 2.15pm.
Match Report: Adam Bray
Photos: Stuart Watson