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Macclesfield 15 Fylde 12
10:00am Tuesday 28th October 2008 in Rugby
A fine kicking display from Macclesfield's fly-half Ross Winney gave his side a narrow victory over Fylde in damp, windy and miserable conditions at Priory Park.
Fylde were the more creative team but Macc's limited tactics suited the conditions and they were happy to rely on Winney's boot and mistakes by the visitors.
Fylde outscored Macc by two tries to nil but all they had to show at the end was a losing bonus point.
Macclesfield swap places with Fylde although both clubs have the same number of points in the top three of National Three (North).
It was Fylde first defeat in six matches.
It's been a difficult week for the Woodlands side. Injuries to three of their backline - centres Tom Albinson & Neil Hunter, and fullback Mike Waywell- ruled them out of starting contention although Waywell made the replacement's bench.
Then, on Friday evening, star winger Nick Royle, making his starting competitive debut on loan to Sale Sharks against Bath at Edgeley Park, suffered a bad leg injury.
It was initially feared that Royle had fractured a fibula but subsequent tests showed severe bruising and, perhaps, damaged ankle ligaments.
But it will keep Royle out of action for at least a few weeks.
Richard Kenyon came out of partial retirement to partner David Wiseman at centre while Martin Wallwork was once more at fullback.
Sale Jets and England Academy 18-year-old winger Jordan Davies took Royle's place on the right wing and made his club debut.
The teams kicked off in continual rain and the strong wind blew pretty much across the pitch.The first ten minutes was even with both teams sounding out the other.
Referee Steve Lee gave the first of a number of offside decisions against the visitors after nine minutes and the National Three (North) top scorer Winney slotted the penalty to give Macc a 3-0 lead. It was to last just a minute.
Fylde forced their way downfield and earned a lineout 25m out from the Macc line.
Skipper Roger Banks won the ball cleanly and hooker Chris Tyms broke down the blindside.
He fed scrum-half Craig Aikman who in turn shipped it out to Oliver Brennand.
The England Counties winger left opposing winger Jon Lowden for dead and scored a neat, well worked try. Steve Nutt's attempted conversion went wide but Fylde had a narrow 5-3 lead.
Second & third Winney penalties after 23 and 27 minutes turned the game around and Macc established a 9-5 advantage.
On 29 minutes Fylde earned a scrummage 30m out from the Macc line.
Number eight Sam Beaumont broke from the back of the scrum and passed to Aikman.
The scrum-half missed out fly-half Nutt and found centre David Wiseman who picked an excellent line before passing to Richard Kenyon.
The former Lancashire utility back made the line with a couple of Macc defenders hanging on to him. It was a fine return for the classy Kenyon. Nutt converted and Fylde were back in the lead by 12-9.
However, Fylde once again offended just before the break and Winney made them pay by equalising the scores at 12-all.
The second half was a tight affair and Fylde struggled to create clear opportunities.
The visitors contributed to their own problems by poor infield and line kicking which wasted possession and gave the initiative to the home side.
Macc were camped on the Fylde line for a period but were more concerned with trying to batter their way through their pack than to move the ball along their backline.
They lacked a penetrative edge and spurned chances of clinching the game with their lack of width.
But their pack, particularly their backrow, were very hard working and in number eight Jonathan Keep, recently returned to Priory Park from National One neighbours Manchester, they had the man of the match.
As it happened, Fylde's generosity in giving away kickable penalties ultimately justified Macc's tactics.
On 70 minutes Winney had a fifth chance to kick a goal and he duly won the game for Macc.
This was a little hard on Fylde but they were guilty of failing to use their more imaginative and dangerous backline in an effective manner.
Macc had, overall, the majority of possession and territory and therefore deserved their win..
Fylde had scored an average of 38 points per league game going into this match but never threatened that kind of attacking on such a dismal day.
Some of their senior players had an off day and they paid for it with vital league points lost.
This is Fylde's second away defeat this season, both by narrow margins and through late scores by the opposition.
In comparison, Macclesfield have the priceless ability to win tight games and they took second place in National Three (North) as the prize whilst Fylde drop to third.