Laboured Analogies Special: A Titanic Struggle
On the 100th anniversary of a large ship hitting an even bigger
iceberg, Jersey will be hoping to steer clear of danger when the
Macc Lads come out to play.
A nervous fortnight without any match action for the Islanders
comes to an end at 3pm tomorrow when the pre-penultimate game of
2011/12 kicks off.
The bigger picture regarding the National One title race is one
that few people can resist looking at, even though Ben Harvey is
insistent that his Jersey squad must concentrate on the
The immediate priority is ensuring a win against a Macclesfield
side who are under little pressure, albeit that they are motivated
by a desire to do themselves more justice than in the first fixture
between the sides.
With Ealing looking certain to return to winning ways, Jersey
know that victory over Macclesfield is essential to maintain a
healthy lead over the Trailfinders. With the magic figure in
National One currently standing at 114 (any tie-breaker would go
Jersey's way), four points tomorrow would leave five more required
from the last two games; 5 points against Macc, and just a basic
win at Coventry next week would do the trick. Sounds so simple when
you say it like that...
News from the Jersey camp
The last thing DoR Harvey would want to be doing this week is
making wholesale changes to his squad and he is in the fortunate
position of having most of the players who featured in March
available for selection.
Just one change is likely in the pack, where Kingsley Lang's
back injury allows a redemption opportunity at flanker for Steve
O'Brien, out of favour since he captained the side to defeat
against Barking five weeks ago.
Winger Ed Dawson has been ill, so Glenn Bryce moves from 15 to
11, Mike Le Booj slots in at full-back and the established centre
pairing of Donovan Sanders and Dai Bishop will be in place from the
off. Ashley Maggs is one of two replacement backs alongside Nicky
Griffiths, who faces a disciplinary hearing next week after
receiving a red card against Tynedale, the only blot on a powerful
display by his side, who finished 64-0 winners, the highest score
achieved by any team so far in National One this season.
Any previous (1)
Macclesfield RUFC 15 Jersey RFC 24
A potent combination of strong defence and rapier-like counter
attacking was the winning cocktail for Jersey at Priory Park on a
chilly November afternoon.
The visitors scored three tries in the first half in spite of
making just four visits to Macc territory. Guy Thompson rounded off
a productive month with his seventh try of 'Movember', and after
Josh Fowles replied for the hosts, Ashley Maggs and James Copsey
crossed and it was 8-17 at the interval.
Jersey had to cope with 14 men on two occasions when Steve
O'Brien and Jon Brennan received yellow cards, and while Brennan
was in the bin, winger Edd Stobart scored and the deficit shrank to
Macc looked capable of pushing on to victory, but superb Jersey
defence kept them out. Had the scoreline remained as it was the
match points would have been 1:4, but with three minutes to go Ed
Dawson's try made it 1:5, and the conversion by Mike Le Bourgeois
made it 0:5 at the final whistle.
Macc in 2011/12
Macc started this season with a hat-trick of bonus point wins that
saw them top the table, and the 35-22 defeat at Blaydon was the
only reverse in their first six outings. Then the wheels came off
somewhat, with five straight defeats. Games against Rosslyn Park,
Cov and Fylde saw Macc score 76 points, but concede 106, and to
lose to Birmingham 21-17 after Bees' Russell Earnshaw was
red-carded was a further disappointment. This was followed by a
25-13 home win against Blackheath and an excellent triumph at
The win at Vallis Way was perhaps the performance of the season
by the Blues, albeit marred by a serious injury to No 8 Chris
Jones: a double 'tib and fib' break that ended his season.
The visiting team scored an impressive five tries against
Trailfinders, who ended up without even losing or try (they managed
three) bonus points. Macc's Ryan Parkinson showed that Jersey's Guy
Thompson isn't the only back-row try machine with a hat-trick.
Hooker Sam Moss also scored while Josh Fowles managed a token
effort for the backs.
Defeat by Jersey at the end of November sparked a revival for
Macc who won six straight games around the turn of the year and
became outside contenders for the league title. But more recently
the Blues have gone the opposite way - just one win in their last
seven outings, not far off their worst-ever league sequence of five
straight losses in early 2006.
Proof of what the team can achieve came against title contenders
Ealing two weeks ago. Macc led 17-12 at the break, pulled away to
31-17 after 47 minutes before being hauled in and overtaken by
their visitors who went 34-31 ahead before Ross Winney's late
penalty sealed a draw (3 points each). Macc's tried were scored by
Edd Stobart, Charlie Mulchrone, Thomas Mantell and Josh Fowles.
Talented scrum-half Mulchrone is one of the stand-out performers
(16 tries this season) who missed the first game against Jersey.
Also absent that day was older brother Fergus, formerly with Sale
Sharks, who has scored 13 tries but is again missing due to a
metatarsal injury. This means Winney will play full-back.
While looking out for an iceberg, Jersey fans' eyes may be
caught by another large, albeit differently-shaped, obstacle. Dean
Williams, all 7 ft 1 inches of him (oh, and 22+ stone) has made 25
starts and one sub appearance for Macc this season since joining
from Sedgley Park last summer. His appearance record is comparable
to winger Jack Moorhouse (also 25 +1) and fellow lock Alan Marsh
(25), and just behind flanker Ryan Parkinson who has scored 12
tries this season but missed his first game of the season against
Ealing after sustaining an injury in the warm-up.
Macc's pack has a reputation as one of the best in the league,
and the team are also potent in attack - 107 tries puts them fifth
in the charts, only just behind Blackheath (110) and Jersey (108).
But Director of Rugby Geoff Wappett admits that it's the number of
points conceded that can be crucial - 678 is twice as many as
Jersey (342), and a points difference of +83 is low for a side near
the top of the league. Macc are currently sixth and would hope to
overhaul Rosslyn Park who are just three points ahead in fifth.
The Macc pack was significantly boosted over the summer through
the arrival of prop Gavin Woods from local rivals Caldy, the return
of Martin Kent, another prop, from Coventry, and lock Dean Williams
(ex-Sedgley). In the backs, winger Edd Stobart joined, again from
Sedgley, to provide the pace alongside Josh Fowles and Matt
The Macc coaching team is the ex-Rotherham duo of Geoff Wappett
and Andy Northey. Wappett thinks he is the only member of the squad
to have been to Jersey previously for a match.
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In August 2004 Jersey of London 3SW (level 7) entertained Geoff
Wappett's Bradford & Bingley side, who had just gone up to
National Three North (then level 4). The Yorkshire side triumphed
by 45-17 after a closely-fought first half, with Jersey's tries
scored by Richie Griffiths, John Allo and Gareth Jeffreys, plus a
conversion by 'Chalky' White. Of the current 1st XV squad, Steve
O'Brien and Jon Brennan both played.
A certain Matt Banahan, aged 17-and-a-half, came off the bench
that day and Wappett was sufficiently impressed to make a 'come up
and see me sometime' offer to the Highlands College student, altho'
it came to nowt when 'Banners' went to London Irish the following
Going back with Macc - club history
Like Jersey, Macc's history goes back to the 1870s, with an
official formation date of 1877 and several ground moves prior to
arrival in Priory Park in 1980. The 1980s also saw the club enter
the Girobank North West One, a trial league which preceded the
launch of the RFU's national Courage League structure in 1987.
At the turn of the century Macc were in North One, a.k.a. Level
5, and achieved promotion in 2003. This was followed by seven
seasons at Level 4, including a losing promotion play-off at
Redruth in 2005 and culminating in the winning of Nat 2N in 2010,
when Loughborough were beaten by three points over the season, and
the short-lived Championship Trophy clinched (in the same year as
Jersey's Twickenham visit) with a 30-26 win over Barking at
Last season Macc won 17 games in their first season at Level
Three, achieving a total of 95 points and a creditable fourth place
in National One.
Some of the better-known faces to have played for Macclesfield
down the years include (thanks to 'Clubman' - the Macclesfield
oracle - for this info):
Peter Glover - Bath/Combined Services/England (3 caps)
moved to Macclesfield after his RAF days when he became a civil
airline pilot operating out of Manchester and he played for a
couple of seasons back in the 1970's. Wing/Centre.
Steve Diamond - Current Sale Coach was a player/coach
with Macc a few seasons ago before moving to Russia and
Steve Smith - initially played at Macclesfield before
moving on to Wilmslow/Sale and then England (28 caps) at Scrum
Dave Cusani - Ex Orrell & one England cap (v Ireland
1987) played lock for Macc in late 1980s.
Others include Alan McInnes, Steve Burnage (former
player/coach and ex Orrell/Fylde) and several others who have
played at England Counties level & Cheshire.
* Full-back and captain Ross Winney has scored approximately 1,550
points in his Macc career since joining the club in 2005. This is
close to a National League record, altho' he is behind Esher's Jon
Gregory (1,609 points from 1998-2004) and Charlie Hodgson at Sale
(1,870 prior to moving to Saracens). Winney also played for Sale,
Orrell, Plymouth and Wakefield earlier in his career, and has a
career total of 1,901 pts to date. Neil Hallett (Rosslyn Pk,
Bracknell, Esher and now Ealing) is listed as 2153, although
definitive figures are hard to come by.
* Winger Edd Stobart is grandson of the Eddie Stobart whose
lorries are regularly seen on Britain's motorways. This alleged
connection spawned an entire thread on the Rolling Maul forum, one
quiet close-season, with queries about Stobart being "in it for the
long haul", whether he'd "deliver the goods" and, my favourite, a
prize for the first referee to ping him for a "truck-and-trailer"
* Leading try-scorer from the past two seasons (22 and 20), Evan
Stewart signed for Fylde last summer, and, like Sid James in his
prime, has carried on scoring (16 thus far).
* Ross Winney (a statto's best friend) scored 49 points in a
game against Waterloo in January 2010.
* Macclesfield's clubhouse is believed to be the only one in
National One containing a real fire. Rumours that members of the
Ealing committee were using this to light their cigars two weeks
ago have not been confirmed.
Following the game
Don't forget that you can keep up-to-speed with news from the game
through the following channels:
• Preview on BBC Radio Jersey's Sportscene from 6-7pm
on Friday, and live commentary on Saturday afternoon (FM, AM and
• Preview in Friday's JEP, more build-up in the
Inside Centre pull-out on Saturday, and full match
coverage on Monday
• Scoreflashes on @jerseyrfc Twitter, Facebook and the Rolling
Maul rugby forum
• Match report on Channel 103 on Saturday soon after the final
• Report Sport on Channel TV at 6.15pm on Monday, and online.
Macc's website is worth a look, plenty of good quotes from Mr
Wappett, who is rarely tongue-tied!
Ealing (99pts) are six points behind Jersey and host Cov this
weekend; Fylde (97) have a tough trip to Blackheath (91 including
40 from last 8 games). Next weekend Fylde host Ealing while Jersey
travel to Cov.
And finally… the busiest weekend of the
It's a busy weekend for rugby in the Channel Islands. Cop a load
You'll probably miss the first match of the weekend, in fact so
will I if I don't get this bl**dy preview finished - Jersey Youth v
Kendal at 12noon today (Friday).
Also on the agenda (all games at St Peter leaving some
interesting changing room arrangements!):
Jersey v Midhurst v Chichester (Under 13 round-robin - Sat
and Sun 11am)
Kendal Youth v Worthing Youth (Sat 11am)
Jersey Wanderers v Worthing (Sat 11am)
Jersey United Banks Ladies v New Ash Green (Sat 1pm)
the Inter-Insular Match Jersey v Guernsey (Sun at 12.30)
Jersey Youth v Worthing (Sun at 12.30)
the memorial match for John 'Fergie' Ferguson, St Helier v
Bishopston (Renfrewshire) (Sun 12.30).
And a large exodus of young rugby players will also be heading
to Guernsey for the Junior Siam games at all ages from Under 7s
upwards. Good luck to them and hopefully their absence, plus that
of their coaches and supporters, won't make too much of a hole in
the attendance for Jersey v Macc.
Enjoy your rugby this weekend.
Why not get yourself a Hot Pot (Curry or Chilli served with rice) in the supporters marquee £8 per pot.