Hoppers 19 Macclesfield 11
Preston Grasshoppers ended a run of four defeats, but still gave their fans some anxious moments before moving up a couple of places to 11th in National League Two North.
“It was good to get a win,” said head coach Paul Arnold after recent near-misses.
“Hopefully we can now build a bit of momentum.
“I was happy with how we managed the last 20 minutes and our defence looked solid until they got their try. We could have gone to panic stations at that point, but we regrouped.”
Hoppers wasted a number of good chances, leaving Arnold to admit that he was disappointed not to get the four-try bonus point.
Hoppers made the worst possible start, losing an early line-out then presenting Macclesfield fly-half Tom Morton with an easy three points from a penalty for a high tackle.
But they took the lead after 10 minutes when a dynamic break by Birch gave them the position for a series of assaults on the Macclesfield line which culminated in Luke Procter crashing over from a tap penalty. Fly-half Tom Davidson could n0t convert and there was a let-off when Morton missed a longer penalty attempt.
A second high tackle was again punished by Morton with a three-pointer to regain the lead.
It was short-lived, however, with man-of-the-match Procter bagging his second close-range try and this time Davidson converted.
Hoppers were lucky to go in at half-time with a 12-6 lead as the visitors knocked on in sight of the line with the last play of the half.
Preston had still not found their killer touch after the break, with winger Connor Trueman scorning an overlap and losing the ball on the line. But centre Alex Hurst brought up what looked like a winning lead with a try which Davidson converted.
Hoppers’ normally-resolute pack even contrived to lose a scrum on their own line but Macclesfield missed a great chance to capitalise when winger Sam Parry could not quite get over in the corner.
Eventually, with 15 minutes left, another home hiccup at the line-out saw Macclesfield attack from halfway and put centre Jordan Davies clear for a try which Morton could not convert, leaving his side two scores behind.