Blaydon 24 – Macclesfield 24

When Chris Wearmouth dived over a collapsed maul in the 44th minute to secure a fourth Blaydon try the bonus point it earned meant the Crow-Trees side were guaranteed a top three final placing for the first time since gaining promotion to National League One.

Disappointingly there was to be no fairy tale finish to the season however with Macclesfield drawing level going into the final quarter and finishing much the stronger in a desperate attempt to secure their own status in the league.

Director of Rugby Micky Ward declared himself to be “Absolutely chuffed to bits” with the overall league performance but acknowledged that a draw had been the fairest result, saying “We let ourselves down a bit today, maybe some of the lads were not as focused as they might have been and there were a few defensive lapses”.

They had got off to the perfect start when Andrew Baggett put up a pin-point accurate high ball to the corner for winger Tom Jeffery to collect and dive over but all the good work was undone when Macclesfield centre Elliott Brierley intercepted a loose pass on half-way to race clear and score.

Worse was to quickly follow when in the visitors first real attack they scored again through Dean Williams, and although Gavin Jones responded from a driving maul another lapse saw Macclesfield flanker Ryan Parkinson make a clean catch at a line-out and stroll through an inviting gap.

By the interval the Blaydon deficit was down to just two points when Charles Inceldon in his last game for the club came in on the diagonal at speed to take a short pass from Baggett and crash over, and in the early minutes of the second period it seemed that Blaydon had put their waywardness behind them.

A high tackle on Nathan Bailey produced a penalty which was kicked to the corner and from the line-out the ball was worked across field where another penalty/line-out resulted. This time the pack headed for the line but when the maul went down Wearmouth quickly latched onto the loose ball and the bonus was in the bag.

Back in front the stage was set for a grandstand finish but Macclesfield had other ideas and deservedly drew level with a close range effort from replacement Chris Jones and might have gone on to win it.

John Brennan