Well, that was a result that few saw coming. A win down at the league leaders against a side that’s successfully repelled all comers this season. It’s a result that’s likely to cause quite a stir. Still, Head Coach and Director of Rugby, Geoff Wappett, has maintained all along that things would come good as long as everyone at Macclesfield Rugby Club stuck together. They were just in a bit of a blip, but one good result would put that right. And how right he was: the only thing is that it wasn’t one result, it’s now two. It only goes to show that if you roll your sleeves up and get stuck in, then your application will be rewarded. Here Geoff talks to Macclesfield Rugby about a spirited performance and the never-say-die attitude that has kept Macclesfield Blues going through the tough times.
How satisfying was the win at Trailfinders?
“Oh, it was really satisfying. What a great result that was. It just goes to show you that if you dig deep and keep your spirit up, then eventually it will all come right for you. I’m really pleased for everyone involved with the Club, the management, the players and the supporters. When we stick together as a unit, we can overcome any obstacle.”
How well do you think the team played?
“Gee whiz we didn’t half play well. Mind you we played well the week before, but last Saturday was really, really good. The boys deserve all the accolades that have been bestowed on them. It was such a polished performance. We were up for it from the kick off. We received the ball from the start and kept the ball for a number of phases and sucked their defence in. All it needed was that wonderful pass from Tom Eaton, and Josh Fowles was in for a score. 7 nil up so early on and we were looking good value for that lead. But Ealing are a quality side: that’s why they’ve only lost the one game this year. So it was always a very close game until it got to 21-20 then we seemed to pick up the pace. We’d talked at training about how we’d have to play our best to get anything out of the game. We knew we’d have to keep it tight and be precise, and that’s what the boys delivered – a polished, accurate and professional performance.”
The reports suggest you beat Ealing because the Blues pack was dominant. Was that the case?
“Our pack was fantastic and did a really good job on Trailfinders. We always felt we were capable of doing that though. Ealing play an expansive game and like to take the ball wide at speed whenever they can. We’d talked about making sure we cut off this service and make them play narrower than they’d like. We knew if we could raise our game to what we know we’re capable of and keep our concentration levels, then we had a good chance to limit the quality of the ball they got, and minimise their attacking opportunities. The other good thing about that pack performance is that it also created lots of good ball for us too.”
“It was an interesting contrast of styles I suppose: we were using our forwards as a battering ram and trying to limit their opportunities, whilst they were always trying to get the ball wide as quickly as possible. With a back 3 like that you can’t really blame them. Those 2 wingers and the full back have got extraordinary talent. Still, because we denied them too many opportunities to do this, they started to make mistakes you wouldn’t normally expect them to make. All in all I’m pleased we managed to limit a great attacking side to 3 tries, and even more pleased that we managed to score 5 too.”
Did the injury sustained by Chris Jones disrupt the team?
“There was always a danger that the injury to Chris would disrupt our concentration levels, but the same applied to the Trailfinders too. It was 45 minutes before the ambulance could take Chris away, so it was a long time to pass constructively. What you didn’t want is for the players to drift off and lose focus. They did it very well to their credit. It’s a shame for Chris as he’s been playing well, but we’ve got other members of the squad who can step up. Frankie Barker came on and slotted into the back row well, so the team wasn’t too disrupted. The only slightly bizarre thing about the incident was that as the referee called half time early, I finished up giving my half time team talk before half time!”
What about the next game against Jersey: the tricky ties seem to be coming thick and fast at the moment don’t they?
“We responded awfully well to challenges, especially against the top sides. Now to test that theory even more we’ve got Jersey at the weekend. Now that’s a challenge and a half. Mind you, that’s what’s good about this league: you can’t spend any time resting on your laurels and congratulating yourselves about a performance, as the next one’s on you in no time at all. So, yes a pat on the back for the team for a well deserved victory, but now it’s time to move forward and concentrate on the weekend’s challenge. Overall it promises to be a tight game. Ealing are the only team to have gone to Jersey and won, and we’re the only team to have gone to Ealing and won, so it should be close.”