Mitchell eyes title success

Halesowen News: Centre Ben Barkley leaves a trail of Macclesfield tacklers in his wake en route to scoring his try. Centre Ben Barkley leaves a trail of Macclesfield tacklers in his wake en route to scoring his try.

STOURBRIDGE director of rugby Neil Mitchell has his sights firmly set on title success after his side battled back to draw against Macclesfield.

The Saxons staged an impressive fight back to share the spoils after travelling to league leaders Macclesfield Blues last Saturday.

It is a result that Michell believes opens the door for National Two North success this season.

A nerve shredder at Priory Park saw the honours end even after Jamie Hearn’s 75th minute penalty goal brought the scores level.

Stourbridge showed great fight and resilience, twice having to claw their way back from 10 point deficits through second half tries by Ben Barkley and Nile Dacres.

The Saxons opened the scoring with a Hearn penalty when a Macclesfield tackler failed to release.

Macclesfield hit back after Stourbridge were penalised at the scrum. A kick into the corner and a catch and drive was fed to hulking second row Dean Williams who barged over from short range. Another catch and drive then saw Macclesfield number 8 Ryan Parkinson going over for the try.

However, two coolly taken Hearn penalties, one awarded after good breakdown work by Eji Uzoigwe, saw the half time score 12-9 to the home side.

An eventful second period saw both team add to their scores as the game drew on. It was then Hearn's kicking that rescued a valuable draw for Stourbridge after Macclesfield had moved ahead at a crucial stage. With time running out and his team down by 26-16, Hearn converted Nile Dacres’s late try and added the 75th minute penalty.

A bullish Mitchell said: "That draw really sets us up in the title race now. We have six games to go and are aiming to win them all. If we do that, we will be champions or get in the play-offs. I think it is going to be down to whichever team cracks first.

"We showed great attitude on Saturday to climb back into the game. It showed exactly what this team is made of."

Stourbridge, who lie in third place and are just four points behind Macclesfield, now face Otley at home this Saturday.

Mitchell added: "Otley are not a bad side. This is the sort of fixture that can bite you if you are not careful. We need to be professional and get the job done."

He also revealed he could make a few changes after last Saturday's gruelling contest by handing starts to other members of the squad.

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