National League Two North: Wharfedale 30 Macclesfield 21

WHARFEDALE have moved closer to safety – but aren't quite there yet.

They got the victory that they craved over Macclesfield, though the lack of a four-try bonus point meant that the Greens can still finish in the third and last relegation berth.

Blaydon have joined Sheffield in falling through the trapdoor into the Northern divisions, but the last place is between the Dalesmen and Luctonians.

If the Herefordshire club, who beat Sheffield 76-12 at the weekend, take bonus-point victories in their final two games – at Leicester Lions on Saturday and at home to champions Sale on Saturday, May 12 – they can total 57 points, while Wharfedale are only on 56.

Midlands pride could do the Greens a favour this weekend, but what can they expect from Sale, who may have players representing Cheshire in a week and a half in the Bill Beaumont County Championship against Lancashire?

The Macclesfield game may not have been an afternoon to match the tension of Wharfedale's win against Tynedale the previous weekend, but it had its moments.

Having played up the slope in the first half, the Greens led 23-14 at half-time via tries by fly half Tom Barrett and prop Toms Asejevs, with Barrett adding three penalties and two conversions.

Macclesfield, who managed tries by centre Sam Broster and hooker Sam Moss in the first half, both of which were converted by centre Lewis Barker, had the lion's share of possession in the second half.

Wharfedale did manage a try by full back Robbie Davidson and a penalty and a conversion by Barrett, but they amazingly kept Macclesfield down to one try – scored by Barker and converted by livewire replacement Charlie Reed – despite having centre Rhys Lovegrove and replacement back-rower Josh Burridge sin-binned for foul play.

"We started the game looking to get four points and thought at half-time that we could get five after scoring two tries, but in the last ten minutes started thinking about four points again after the sin-binnings," admitted Greens skipper Phil Woodhead.

"We didn't see a lot of ball in the second half but when we had it we did something with it, although overall we gave away too many penalties.

"Now it is going to be a long time waiting for those Luctonians results, although hopefully it will only be one long week.

"Leicester Lions are a good side and will be tough to beat and get four tries against, but if it does go to the last week, then we just hope to Sale will tip up, and it won't be easy for Luctonians to get four tries against them either whatever side Sale put out."

A crowd of 830 on an afternoon that varied between sunny and overcast certainly answered Rob Baldwin's call to turn up, and the experienced No 8 helped to set the tone with some strong early carries.

Having got away with conceding the first penalty, the home side struck in the fourth minute when a delightfully weighted Barrett chip over the top bounced kindly for the fly half to collect and score, leaving him with an easy conversion.

Macclesfield then obstructed a chaser after another kick ahead, and Barrett stroked over the seventh-minute penalty to make it 10-0.

Then the visitors displayed good ball retention for Broster to score in the 15th minute, with Barker's conversion cutting the deficit to three points.

Another Barrett penalty three minutes later made it 13-7, however, and after the fly half had also missed a pot at goal, the Greens got their second try via Asejevs after a break by right winger Joel Gill was continued by hooker Dan Stockdale and Baldwin.

Barrett's conversion made it 20-7 but the visitors responded with an unstoppable 14-man shove to help Moss over in the 33rd minute, with Barker converting, but Barrett finished a tidy Wharfedale half with another penalty three minutes later.

However, instead of building on that nine-point advantage when they were now playing towards the river, Wharfedale appeared nervous, and Barrett missed a 47th-minute penalty and Woodhead knocked on.

The home side's golden chance came in the 56th minute when centre Tom Davidson broke through, but elected to go himself and the opportunity died with him when there was a two-man advantage inside him.

Macclesfield continued to build the phases and test Wharfedale, who lost Lovegrove to a yellow card in the 61st minute, and they were held up underneath the home posts before Greens left winger Oli Cicognini used some of his fading energy to speed down the left wing before getting cramp.

The ball was moved right and then back left for Robbie Davidson to get on the end of a neat Barrett pass to score Wharfedale's third try.

Barrett's conversion took the Greens more than two scores ahead, but, almost as importantly, the chance of a bonus-point try was back on again, despite them having only 14 men.

However, no sooner were Wharfedale back to 15 than Macclesfield scored in the top, left-hand corner via Barker, with Reed converting.

Burridge was sin-binned for foul play after the try was scored, and Wharfedale only had one more chance of a try in the face of what seemed relentless Macclesfield pressure, being penalised for holding on after building up a head of steam in the 75th minute.