Macclesfield crowned National Two North champions

Macclesfield have made an immediate return to National One

Macclesfield fought back from a slow start against Chester to clinch the National Two North title after a 40-12 victory at Priory Park.

After relegation from National One last year, Macc have been front-runners for promotion for most of this season and led this all important contest 14-7 at half-time.

They scored tries through Josh Fowles and Charlie Venables only after Chester had deservedly gone ahead via a Will Bown score.

The first half performance from Chester was impressive, but they fell away in the second period as winger Fowles completed his hat-trick while Ryan Parkinson touched down for the hosts who were also awarded a Penalty Try on their way to securing the title.

Chester did have the final say when they crossed late on, but it wasn’t enough to spoil Macclesfield’s party.

After dropping down from the third tier of English rugby last year, this was redemption for Giles Heagerty and his Macclesfield side, who have now gained promotion in two of their last three seasons.

In winning the title, Maccelsfield have made a return to National One at the first time of asking and they will also have their eye on a league and cup double with the Cheshire Cup Final taking place early next week.

Despite the encouraging display from Chester, they remain in the bottom half of the table and their safety in National Two North is still yet to be confirmed.

Before this game began, Macclesfield needed just a point to be crowned champions so, quite rightly, there was a party atmosphere at Priory Park but in the opening 40 minutes, Chester looked in the mood to gate-crash the celebrations.

After Chester lost lock Llion Jones following an injury sustained straight from the kick-off, the visitors came flying out the blocks and were certainly not going to gift the victory to Macclesfield.

Rather than it being a predictable one-sided half, Chester did the early damage. After some wonderful free-flowing passing, Bown smashed his way past the Macclesfield defence to go over under the posts with fly-half Rhys Hayes adding the extras to give his side a well-earned lead.

The hosts were struggling to get a foothold in the game and were starting to lose their discipline before the first real moment of brilliance from Macc sparked them into life.

Winger Elliot Brierley broke the Chester line before feeding Venables who superbly offloaded the ball to Fowles who darted over.

That try was the cue for Macclesfield to start turning the screw and control the tempo of the game which they have done on numerous occasions on home soil this term.

A series of sustained phases led to Macclesfield making more inroads into the Chester 22 and it was the hosts who had the last say of the half.

Superb hands from the Macclesfield backs eventually led to an overlap on the left side of the pitch as Parkinson produced a lovely pass around the corner for Venables who had the simple task of crossing in the corner to give his side the lead.

Barker converted that try in difficult weather conditions before the break, but Chester were still very much in the contest as both teams trudged off for half-time.

However, after a quick-fire start to the first 40 from Chester, it was Macc who upped the intensity in the second period, scoring four more tries.

Firstly, Parkinson barged his way over from close range from a rolling maul before Fowles burst through from midfield to dive over a secure the try-bonus point for Macclesfield which also confirmed the championship for the home side.

With the league title now in the bag, the pressure was off the Blues who continued to pile the pressure on the Chester line and following a yellow-card for a preventing a quick tap penalty, Macclesfield were awarded a Penalty Try to extend their lead to 33-7.

There was still time for the impressive Fowles to claim his hat-trick and he did with ease as he cut a beautiful line to race over and put the icing on the cake for Macclesfield who had taken charge of this second half to secure victory.

Chester did have the final say of the afternoon when they scored their second try after great work from Hayes, but the day belonged to Macclesfield.

The final whistle sparked jubilant celebrations among the Macclesfield players and support with12 months ago now a distant memory.

National Two North

Elsewhere in National Two North, Sedgley Park’s play-off hopes suffered a slight dent as they were beaten 34-19 away at Caldy while Leicester Lions moved to within nine points of Sedge after a 36-14 win at Broadstreet.

That defeat for Broadstreet confirmed their relegation from National Two North as Sale FC produced the result of the afternoon as they came away from Stourbridge with a 23-10 victory which moves them out of the bottom three, for a few hours at least.

South Leicester also boosted their survival bid with an impressive 36-21 win over Harrogate which means they could be safe from relegation if Sandal lose to Tynedale in the late kick-off.

The Luctonians continued their impressive recent form as they edged out Otley 32-28 at Cross Green, while Preston Grasshoppers confirmed their safety in style after an emphatic 57-17 win over already relegated Huddersfield.

Tynedale v Sandal is the late kick-off.

National Two South

Cambridge maintained their five point lead at the top of National Two South after a 36-15 win over Southend Saxons which saw the sea-side club relegated from the fourth tier of English rugby.

Second placed, the Old Albanian continued to put pressure on Cambridge as they beat the Old Elthamians 46-20 while Bishops Stortford triumphed 53-5 over the Redingensians and Redruth won 32-18 at home against Barnes.

Dorking have given themselves a real chance of staying in National Two South after they secured a vital 27-14 win over Bury St Edmunds. That victory leaves them just three points from safety because Worthing Raiders lost 30-12 away at Taunton Titians.

Elsewhere, Canterbury took a huge step to safety after a 34-27 win over Clifton while Chinnor confirmed their place in National Two South following a 75-3 thrashing of bottom side Launceston.

National League 2 North 2018/19 - Points Table