Macclesfield 3rds 31 – 43 Lymm Eagles

Eagles Team Match Report | Saturday February 11 2023

Eagles Dogged Determination Carries The Day

Having not played a game for almost a month, Lymm Eagles were full of expectation and, with 12 straight wins under their belts, a reasonable degree of confidence as they made their midweek preparations for their return fixture with Macclesfield 3s at Priory Park.  As it was an away game Captain Ollie Brown was pleased with the unusually good response to his call to arms and was looking forward to travelling with a full complement of players and replacements.  That was until Saturday morning when Lymm 2s unexpectedly found themselves short of players due to late cry offs and sent out an urgent request for support from the Eagles.  As a team of true clubmen, several of the Eagles stepped up to the mark and provided the required support at the penalty of depleting their own resources. Accordingly, the Lymm lads made the trek to Macclesfield with a bare 15 players in a slightly despondent mood.

Lymm arrived to find Macc 3s also with a depleted side again as a result of their players required to support their more senior teams.  They could only raise a team of 13 with the rules allowing Lymm to field 1 extra man.  In addition, Macc could not provide a viable front row, so once again the referee agreed that the match would be played with uncontested scrums from the start.  This did not come as a complete surprise to Lymm as this has been par for the course most of the season. In his pre-match chat with Lymm, the referee confirmed that this was the third time that he had adjudicated at an Eagles game this season and that as he was well-aware of our style of play, he would be keeping a close eye on us. The team thanked him warmly for his supportive comments and were most heartened by the fact that our team of veteran players could still be described as stylish!

Following the mandatory changing room pep talk and tongue lashing from Captain Brown. Lymm kicked off the game determined to show Macc that they meant business with displays of fierce tackling and strong running.  Within the first 2 minutes, second row Adam Halford made great use of his high stepping, long legged running style, to collect a bouncing loose ball and gallop 25 metres to the line and touch down in the corner for an unconverted opening try (0 – 5). Play continued at a frantic pace for the next 15 minutes, with the Lymm forwards Jim France and Craig Capewell getting a good share of the ball, allowing experienced scrum half Martin Henderson to do his thing feeding the backs.  Unfortunately, strong tackling from Macc did much to prevent centres Rob (two FFs) Griffiths and Simon Beards from breaking through or releasing the ball to the wings. However, around 16 minutes in, a long ball fielded by full back Rhys Jones was taken forward in a jinking run and passed to Halford, who was apparently taking a breather out of position on the wing, which allowed him to open his legs and show his class to the Macc backs in another 25 metre sprint to the line. Accurate kicking from Rhys Jones added the extras (0 – 12).  The match continued in a bit of a to-and-fro fashion with most of the action occurring with honours even between the two 10m lines. Eventually speedy winger Tom Coghill finally attracted the attention of fly-half Alan Reddecliff, by gesticulating wildly from the touchline and was rewarded with an accurate cross field kick which he fielded for a catch and swerve foot race to the line for a converted try (0 – 19) on 21 minutes.

Buoyed by the scoreline Lymm’s spirit seem to improve and the ball was moved around the pitch with a bit more freedom and confidence.  Unfortunately, a slow, lacklustre pass between two Lymm players in mid field (names removed to protect the guilty) was deftly intercepted by an eagle eyed Macc back travelling at full tilt who then sprinted almost half the pitch unopposed for a converted try under the posts on 24 minutes (7 – 19).   The apparent simplicity of the score, stung Lymm into action and the ball was now thrown around with some gusto, but again excellent defending from Macc coupled with unforced errors prevented Lymm being able to make much progress up the pitch.  Fortunately, Adam Halford, having an excellent game in his new position of “Wandering Ball Scavenger” swooped on a loose ball at the back of the ruck and set off on yet another storming charge for the line to complete his hat trick of tries. The conversion by Jones brought the score after 30 minutes to a comfortable (7 – 26).

The scoreline did not seem to dishearten Macc in the slightest.  If anything, it hardened their resolve and within 2 minutes of the restart Macc were camped for a scrum on Lymm’s 5 metre line pressing hard for a score.  Lymm scrum half, Henderson, quickly passed the ball back over the try line to fly half Reddecliff for a clearance kick.  Unfortunately, the Macc scrum half was closely following the ball and made a superb effort to charge down the kick, regather the ball and touch down for a great individual effort. The resulting conversion brought the score after 35 minutes to (14 – 26). Lymm appeared to be stunned into inactivity by the rapidity of the Macc response and therefore it was not entirely surprising when only 2 minutes later Macc made another well supported drive up the centre of the pitch and release one of their older, but clearly still very rapid backs, to nip over the Lymm line in the corner for an unconverted try (19 – 26) on 37 minutes.  The referee’s whistle 3 minutes later for half time was welcomed by Lymm with an audible sigh of relief.

Half Time: Macclesfield 19 – 26 Lymm Eagles

Shortly before the restart, Macclesfield managed to acquire another two players to bring them up to a full complement of 15 players which Lymm were now able to match.

The team message for Lymm at half time was clear, better communication, better handling, better tackling and fewer penalties. Unfortunately, it was not clear that everyone or in fact if anyone had received the message as after receiving the ball from the restart another slow, languid pass within the backs (names removed etc) was intercepted by a speeding Macc centre, who ran half the pitch unopposed and scored under the posts in an almost duplicate move as their first try. The conversion brought the scores level at (26 – 26) with only a minute played of the second half.

It was clear that Lymm really needed to step up their game, and credit should go to the back row of Kieran Williams, Max Ure and Craig Capewell for their sterling efforts in peeling off the scrum to support the ball carrier and provide valuable extra metres. The forwards were finally rewarded for their efforts a few minutes later when their big, second row, line out jumper and all round strong man, Mike Clarke took the ball 10 metres out and crashed over for a classic forwards try (26 – 31). Not to be outdone, the backs, who had seen little of the ball since the restart, managed to get the ball out wide to Josh Keefe on the wing.  After making good ground, he offloaded an inside pass to fullback Jones who wisely decided against his trademark chip and chase to back his own running and outpace Macc defenders in a race to the line. He did not manage to convert his own try (26 – 36).

Unfortunately, for the next 20 minutes the match descended into a war of attrition with both sides repeatedly crashing into each other but without making much progress or little effect either way. The ball seemed to be trapped within the combined packs and did not move up or down the pitch more than 10 metres.   The wingers on both sides looked to be in danger of nodding off or suffering from hypothermia and both teams seemed to be engaged in a battle to see who could give away the most penalties or infringements. During this rather slow and uninteresting period, this scribe would probably give the edge to Macclesfield as they managed to actually pick up a yellow card whilst Lymm just about avoided any. The most unusual high spot (or should that be blemish?) in this period was when fly half Reddecliff made a quick solo break away up the pitch leaving most of his own teammates trailing well behind in his wake.  Looking around for someone to pass to, only long legged Halford was available on his outside and apparently deciding Adam was not deserving of the opportunity for a 4th try, took a circular route through 180 degrees to run back towards his own teammates who were in hot pursuit causing them to shout, “run the other way, run the other way”.

Eventually around 30 minutes into the second half this stalemate position was resolved when Lymm slowly managed to edge their way up the pitch to within 10 metres of the Macc line where they were awarded a scrum for a Macc knock on.  The ball was cleanly collected from the back of the scrum by scrum half Henders, who swiftly nipped round the blind side and executed a brilliant “show and go” dummy pass to sidestep his opposite number and score under the posts.  The dummy was so convincing that the pretended recipient, centre Simon Beards, thought that he had actually caught the ball and scored himself. Rhys Jones added the extra points for the conversion (26 – 43). Apparently Henders’ try now means that he cannot retire from senior rugby for at least another season, and I understand that this may actually be written into the Laws of Rugby!

The remaining 10 minutes of the game were pretty lacklustre although neither side were prepared to give quarter (look it up if you need to!). To give Macc full due, they continued to push hard against a tiring Lymm squad and gained steady metres through continued infringements by the visitors. With the clock running down, Macc gave one final push which allowed one of their more experienced (i.e. Old) players to dart over from 5 metres out for a well-deserved individual try.  The missed conversion brought the final whistle with a score of (31 – 43).

Full Time: Macclesfield 31 – 43 Lymm Eagles

Not a classic game of rugby by any standards but certainly a tough match against a skilled and competent opposition. A highly satisfactory result as it represents Lymm Eagles 13th consecutive win this season which should bode well for the future in the final league positions. To some extent Lymm were very lucky to escape with a win, given their one man advantage for the first half of the match and the team definitely performed below their usual capability.  However, this does not detract from the fact that everyone on the team clearly put in a huge physical effort even though at times it must have felt like running into a brick wall.  They all turned up to support their team, they were all measured and counted, not found wanting and they won.  You can’t ask for much more than that.

Top performance today was undoubtedly from stalwart Adam Halford whose dogged determination and unusual positioning on the pitch enabled him to run in a hat trick of tries.  However, for this scribe, todays Man of the Match was Jim France for his excellent work in the front row and his continuous support work in and around the loose play throughout the match.

Next week, Lymm are away at Liverpool St Helens (LSH) 2s, who will provide another hard match, please come on down to watch.

Team: Olly Brown (C) 2) Jim France (C) 3) David Coon 4) Adam Halford 5) Mike Clarke 6) Kieran Williams 7) Craig Capewell 8) Max Ure 9) Martin Henderson 10) Alan Reddecliff 11) Josh Keefe 12) Rob Griffiths 13) Simon Beards 14) Tom Coghill 15) Rhys Jones.

Emergency Replacements:  Pete Coon, Stuart Wraith, Keith Broadbent (available only by ZOOM)

Match Report: Pete & David Coon


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