Blues Come From Behind To Beat Sedgley Park

Sedgley v Macclesfield
Strong defence by Macclesfield at the end of the first half
©Talking Rugby Union

The Blues had to come from behind for the second week in a row at Sedgley Park where they ran out 37-21 winners.

The game began at a ferocious pace and it didn’t take long for the first try. It was a try for the Blues, with Centre Mike Barlow sliding over after just three minutes to give the Blues a dream start. The conditions were great, with the Sedgley playing surface immaculate; great credit to their ground staff.

The hosts hit back almost straight away to take the lead from the Blues, with Collins and Riley combining well.

The Blues forwards had started with greater intensity than the home team. At the breakdown and set piece the Blues pack showed better technique and energy. A five meter scrum was to expose Sedgley's front row. Poor body position by The Sedgley front row allowed the Blues tight head to get an angle (a touch illegally perhaps) and shortly after Frankie Barker controlled the ball well at the base and the pack were able to push over from a five metre scrum.

This season, so far, has seen the Sedgley pack dominate. This set back in the scrum seemed to send the right message and with Crous leading from the front the Sedgley pack motored forward and put thee or four nice phases together before spinning the ball wide.

Again the Blues were quickest to the breakdown and with great technique stole the ball to free winger Matt King, who showed a great turn of pace to out-sprint the Sedgley defence from 40 metres out.

The Sedgley defensive style is very narrow and their coaching staff must realise this can cause problems when opposition wingers recognise the space exists. At this stage Macclesfield were in the ascendency and were on course to wrap up the bonus point before half time.

The momentum then shifted the way of the Tigers as replacement scrum half Callum McShane, Steve Collins and Mike Waywell added pace across the gain line. This pushed the Blues backwards and it required the back row to rack up the tackle count and defended their own line tirelessly for the rest of the half.

Coach Wappett's animation on the touch line was most visible but he must have been pleased with his team's ability to turn the ball over at the breakdown. the Sedgley forwards seeming to be a yard slower and unable to clear out rucks.

Despite this, Sedgley went over the line 5 times but with only two tries counting; making it 21 - 15 at oranges. Of the three missed opportunities two were overturned by the officials and one saw a lovely cross field kick from Collins, dropped by Strong on the left. It was thrilling to see Collins repeat the kick across field to the right and a try completion by Riley; adding Lloyd's close range effort.

Macclesfield wrapped up the bonus point shortly after half time when Ryan Parkinson scored his fourth in four games. Shortly after Matt O’Regan carved through the Sedgley defence to cross the whitewash and put the Blues back in the lead. Both these tries came from strong work by the Blues pack and some loss of concentration by the Sedgley forwards.

There had also been two significant changes at half time with the inspirational Crous coming off for Sedgley and the Blues tight head being replaced. With no on-field leader Sedgley meandered their way through the first tweny five minutes of the second half, seemingly unable to return to their form at the end of the second half.

An Ashley Platt-Hughes penalty gave Macclesfield some breathing space, before Parkinson grabbed his second of the day. Despite 22 unanswered points in the second half it was to be Sedgley that were to up their game for the last ten minutes and for the only period in the game it was the Sedgley pack that were to respond; the lift at the lineout was quick, the scrum was square and the breakdown cleared out. Special mention to Lamprey, Lloyd, Ashcroft and Matthews for that final period.

The Blues ran out 37-21 winners, but were made to work for it.

Coach Wappett will need to work on his scrum to ensure its square, the kicking was poor but the intensity and technique will see his team challenging for promotion. The Sedgley coaches need to focus on technical skills at the breakdown and those missed tackles if they are going to finish the season
towards the top. They will also be checking on the injuries to Crous and Bishop.

National League Rugby