Report by Patrick Moore

Macclesfield 22-10 Huddersfield

Huddersfield RUFC fell to a 22-10 defeat against league leaders Macclesfield in the National North II division. Two good second half tries from winger Elliott Fletcher weren’t enough in a spirited comeback from the Field as they were denied a losing bonus point with the last play of the game.

Gareth Lewis’ side were without Joel Hinchliffe, Elliott Hodgson and Lewis Bradley to name a few, but still showed just why Macclesfield’s head coach Giles Heagerty reckoned Huddersfield were “one of the best sides in the league” before the match, despite being rooted at the bottom of the table.

Macclesfield exposed the Field twice down the left hand-side in the second half, but could only convert one of their tries. Huddersfield defended strong though, and held out very well to keep the score respectable.

It took till the 50th minute mark for Macclesfield to cross over again to open up a 17-0 lead, but from then on Huddersfield dominated. An interception from Tom Kanauros when Macclesfield looked certain to score opened up an opportunity and something they perhaps could have scored from.

It didn’t take long until Fletcher scored a try and although Chris Bell couldn’t convert, the Field were on the front again soon after. Bell broke through the middle with men either side but his pass was frustratingly cut out by the home side.

After a sin bin for a deliberate knock on in a try scoring opportunity by Macclesfield, Fletcher again went down brilliantly in the corner. Tom Hodson this time missed the conversion from a tight angle with Bell substituted.

Huddersfield looked good money for a draw in the latter stages, but Macclesfield scored with twenty seconds left to snatch a bonus point for themselves.

“I’m incredibly proud again today,” said Lewis. “We were streets ahead in our second half performance against the best team in the league. They were under a lot of pressure and again the score line doesn’t reflect the game. They did butcher a number of chances in the first half, but we hung in there until half time and we responded brilliantly,

“They had to work for every single try. We spoke at half time about slowing their play down because they were getting a lot of quick ball at the ruck, and we managed to do that by chucking an extra man in to the contact. Defensively under our posts we dealt with them really well.

Try scorer Fletcher, his first tries since joining the club, also gave his thoughts on the loss:

“[The try] has been a long time coming. It was a good game which became nice and open in the second half. The boys didn’t half put in a shift today. We’re playing with nothing to lose now which is a good thing, so we’ve got a bit of freedom to play from the coaching staff. We have plenty more in our locker and we’ve done ourselves proud today, despite the loss.”

Lewis added, “‘Fletch’ is deadly. One on one he can finish because he’s got great footwork and speed, he took his tries very well today. Lewis Workman has really grown into the inside centre role and him and Tom Owen have made a really good partnership. Tom played his best game today and I thought he was immense. He made some good line breaks and some good offloads and that’s what he needs to do every week. He’ll be the first to admit he hasn’t done it all season but he’s an exceptional player.”

“We made some good line breaks. As a team, we need to learn how to make the right decisions under pressure. We had three or four supporting players sometimes but didn’t make it count.”

The Lockwood Park side aren’t mathematically relegated just yet, and will host Caldy next Satuday next week at home.

“The lads who stepped up today did brilliantly, and I’ve got to praise Ed Birkhead, Declan Thompson on his debut, Joah Bradley and Danny Grainger. We had about six lads missing today but we have a great depth in our squad and they have to fight for their places next week.”

Man of the match: Tom Owen.
Starting XV:
15- Tom Hodson
14- Tom Kanauros
13- Tom Owen
12- Lewis Workman
11- Elliot Fletcher
10- Chris Bell
9- Dan Jeffrey
1- Alex Battye
2- Ross Thornton
3- Laurence Sanderson
4- Austen Thompson
5- Nick Rhodes
6- Liam Parfitt
7- Ben Hoyle
8- Adam Malthouse
16- Tom Baxter
17- Edward Birkhead
18- Declan Thompson
19- Danny Grainger
22- Joah Bradley

37’ Declan Thompson for Adam Malthouse
40’ Tom Baxter for Laurence Sanderson
49’ Joah Bradley for Dan Jeffrey
66’ Edward Birkhead for Austen Thompson
66’ Dan Jeffrey for Chris Bell
66’ Danny Grainger for Tom Kanauros

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