Macclesfield hold their nerve to edge closer to glory

Sedge v Macc
Macclesfield kept their cool to beat second placed Sedgley Park and are now on the verge of the National Two North title
©Glenn Hutton

The attention in National Two North was all one fixture in Round 27; Sedgley Park v Macclesfield. With expectations high, it didn’t fail to disappointment as the league leaders took a huge step towards the championship crown.

Giles Heagerty’s side claimed a crucial win against their fellow title rivals to leave them 20 points clear at the top with four games left to play. They now know a win at home against Chester this coming Saturday will clinch them the title.

As for Sedge, their title challenge looks as though it has come to an end, but their promotion fight is still very much alive and kicking as they sit nine points clear of their nearest challengers knowing that just one more win would secure them a play-off spot.

Judging by results this weekend, Stourbridge aren’t giving up just yet as they are now the only side realistically capable of competing for that play-off place.  

Down at the bottom, Huddersfield’s relegation was confirmed after defeat to Caldy while Broadstreet’s hopes of avoiding the drop took a huge blow away at Harrogate. Sale FC fell into the bottom three after Sandal picked up a crucial win over South Leicester to add another twist into this enthralling relegation fight.

Sedgley Park 33-34 Macclesfield

Macclesfield edged closer to the league title as they narrowly beat second placed Sedgley Park in a thrilling encounter at Priory Park.

After making a few changes to their side for their win over Huddersfield last week, a full strength Macclesfield were actually 19-17 behind at the break thanks to a Juan Crous score just before the interval.

Jordan Brooks and Charlie Venebles had gone on over for the league leaders in the first period after a brace from Curtis Strong had given Sedgley Park an early 12-0.

Ryan Parkinson and Matthew Lamprey exchanged tries as Sedge maintained their two point lead after the restart before Lewis Barker landed a penalty which put Macc in front just before the hour.

A second converted Parkinson try six minutes from the end stretched Macclesfield’s lead to eight points and it looked as though they had seen the game out.

However, Thomas Bedlow went over for Sedge on 78 minutes, but his side then missed a penalty with the final play of the game as Macclesfield took a huge step closer to promotion and the title.

Otley 19-27 Stourbridge

A late scoring burst from Otley wasn’t enough as Stourbridge claimed victory at Cross Green to further cement their place in the top three of National Two North.

Nicholas Coupland and Michael Coady both went over in the final 10 minutes of the contest for Otley, but it was too little, too late as Stour moved five points clear of fourth placed Leicester Lions.

Toby Harris also crossed for the hosts, but they were behind at half-time as winger Joshua Trinham touched down for Stourbridge after Chris Scott had landed a penalty for the away side.

Stour led 27-7 with 17 minutes left as Joseph Heatley, Ashley Elvers and James Othuhua all dotted down and despite a late fightback from Otley, the Midlands side had done enough for their 17th win of the season.

Leicester Lions 25-8 Preston Grasshoppers

A hat-trick from Devon Constant ended a run of two straight defeats as Leicester Lions returned to winning ways at home against Preston Grasshoppers.

Constant went over for his first two tries of the afternoon inside the first 25 minutes as the Lions established a 10-0 lead before flanker John Murdoch was yellow-carded.

Preston capitalised on their extra man when Sean Taylor reduced the deficit to seven points from the tee and it got even better for the Hoppers when Leicester went down to 14 men again as Charlie Beckett was sin-binned shortly after Murdoch had return to the field.

The visitors punished their hosts further as Christian Taylor barged his way over to leave the score at 10-8 at half-time.

But after the break, Leicester took control and Constant darted over for his hat-trick nine minutes into the second period before Benjamin Spokes increased his sides lead as he secured the bonus-point try on 56 minutes.

The influential Jonathan Boden then kicked his side further in front with a penalty which ultimately wrapped up the contest as Leicester sealed their 12th home win over the season.

Huddersfield 12-22 Caldy

Huddersfield have now been officially relegated from National Two North after this defeat at home to Caldy on Saturday.

‘Field have won just six of their 27 matches this season and their two year stay at this level has finally come to an end.

Caldy raced into an early 12-0 lead in this contest as Thomas Sanders and Nicholas Royle both crossed inside the first five minutes for the Wirral side.

The hosts then responded through a Daniel Jeffry try on 10 minutes, but Caldy were able to stretch their lead further when John Broxson landed a penalty.

Caldy’s Harrison Crowe was sin-binned just before half-time which allowed Jeffrey to cross for his second of the afternoon to keep ‘Field well in this contest heading into the break.

However, Caldy were able to dictate the play for larger periods of the second 40 and the game was won when Ben Jones sniped his way over on 65 minutes which also signalled the end of the road for Huddersfield in    National Two North.

Harrogate 23-15 Broadstreet

Harrogate put a huge dent in Broadstreet’s hopes of avoiding relegation from National Two North with this win at Rudding Lane on Saturday.

Lewis Minikin and Lee Chapman exchanged penalties early on before a converted Noel Minikin try gave ‘Gate a 10-3 lead on 27 minutes.

However, Broadstreet hit back as scrum-half Pierre Ferre went over for the away side to cut the deficit to two points in an entertaining first half.

Lewis Minikin landed his second penalty of the day after the restart, before Scott Brady scored a crucial try for the home side just after the hour.

Minikin added another three points to his tally shortly after before a late Nicholas Thatcher try gave Broadstreet a glimmer of hope, but Harrogare held firm.

This loss for the Midlands side leaves them 10 points from safety with only three games left of the season so they could join Huddersfield in National Three as early as this coming weekend if results don’t go their way.

Luctonians 17-12 Tynedale

Two second-half tries from Daniel Smith and William Burton gave the Luctonians a narrow victory over Tynedale at Mortimer Park.

A Louis Silver penalty put Alex Davidson’s men 3-0 ahead at the break, with Tyne unable to respond inside the first 40 minutes.

But, it took them just two minutes to scored two tries in the second half as a brace from Oliver Walker gave the north-east side a 12-3 lead instantly after the restart.

Smith’s finish just after the hour then reduced the gap to just two points before the hosts secured a hard-fought win two minutes from the end as Burton crossed only after Tyne’s Benjamin Bell was yellow-carded.

This win for the Luctonians moved them into the top half of the table after a run of just five losses in 16 matches while Tynedale sit nine points clear of the relegation zone in 11th place.

Chester 41-26 Sale FC

Chester secured a much needed victory to ease their relegation worries as they beat Sale FC at Hare Lane.

A double from Craig Ross and a try from Carwyn Lloyd-Williams came before the break with Nicholas Flynn and Jack Moorhouse replying for Sale.

Home fly-half Rhys Hayes crossed after the break before Ross White rounded of proceedings two minutes from the end for Chester who picked up just their fifth home win of the season.

The outstanding Hayes kicked 16 points for hosts while Liam McGovern also landed the same amouut for Sale throughout the afternoon.

The victory for Chester now leaves them nine points clear of the relegation zone while Sale dropped into the bottom three. They are two points from safety, but they still have a game in hand which is against the Luctonians on May 7th.

Sandal 29-20 South Leicester

Sandal took a massive step to safety as they ended a run of one win from their last 12 matches with victory at home against relegation rivals South Leicester.

It was actually South Leicester that led this contest 20-13 at the break thanks to tries from Gareth Kerr and Wesley Cope and two penalties from Ricci Aley, with James Stewart and James Briscoe replying for Sandal.

Greg Wood also kicked a penalty in that first half for Sandal and ended the game with 14 points to him name as he was integral to his team’s comeback.

Briscoe went over for his second score of the afternoon on 57 minutes and after that, the final quarter of this match belonged to Wood and Sandal.

He converted Briscoe’s try before landing three penalties without reply to clinch an important win for Sandal who are now out of the bottom three. As for South, they are just five points clear of the drop.

National League Rugby