We suppose it had to end sooner or later. 8 wins out of 9 was some statistic: maybe 9 wins out of 10 was just pushing it a little too far. Never the less, Macclesfield Blues definitely gave it their best shot up in the North East and on another occasion may have just done enough to sneak the win. Still, it’s over now and time to move on, At least the team can take consolation in the fact that they didn’t leave the frozen north empty handed: 4 tries and a losing bonus point still keeps Macclesfield Rugby in contention with the other 4 top teams. When Macclesfield Rugby caught up with Head Coach and Director of Rugby, Geoff Wappett this week, we weren’t sure what sort of reaction we’d find: would he be annoyed that we came so near yet failed to take the spoils, or happy that at least the team had managed to snatch two points on a ground where success has been hard to come by. Well, we’re pleased to say that he gave us both reactions which can only auger well, and is already planning his strategy for the game down at Rosslyn Park. Here Geoff talks to us about ball retention, bad patches and the black 5.
Obviously you’ll be disappointed with the Tynedale result, but exactly how disappointed are you?
“Yes, of course I was disappointed by the result – annoyingly disappointed in fact. We were leading at half time, 19-10, even though we’d had to absorb a lot of Tynedale pressure. So I was reasonably satisfied then. Tynedale started off well and scored two early tries in the first quarter; then we managed to get back into to it and exert our own pressure. By the interval we looked in charge. We decided what we were going to do in the second half, and by that I mean keeping hold of the ball, and not forcing the game, and then we went and did precisely the opposite. We had a few who were guilty of forcing things and we turned the ball over. Now that’s a pretty silly thing to do against a side that can keep possession well. Tynedale are good at keeping holding on to the ball and frustrating other teams. It’s ironic, but they did a Cambridge on us and turned the tables. We wouldn’t let Cambridge have a sniff of the ball last week, and Tynedale did the same to us.”
Why did the game slip away from the Blues?
“They kept hold of the ball and you could see the player’s frustrations starting to grow. The more we tried to force the game, the more difficult the task got. We finished up behind and had to try something different. During the last quarter we threw the kitchen sink at them and managed to score late on. Had Ross kicked the conversion, then I think we would’ve won, but it wasn’t to be. On most occasions he would’ve kicked it, but for some reason he didn’t nail this one even though it wasn’t a difficult shot. The conditions were ideal. A sharp and bright sunny winter’s day; so we can’t blame them. Still, we continued to exert the pressure and could’ve snatched it with the last kick of the game, but Ross’ drop goal never even got airborne.”
What’s your over-riding feeling about the game?
“I suppose you could say that it was a game that got away. But in fairness, both of us coaches could quite rightly make a good case for saying just how much our team actually deserved to win. It was nip and tuck all the way and a really exciting game. For any neutral it was probably a cracker to watch, but neither coach is neutral. Lots of people said after that it was a fantastic game, but that’s not much comfort to me. The best I can take out of it is that we finished up with two points, when at one stage of the season we’d have come away with nothing. At the end of the day it was one of those games where you lost, and lost narrowly, but you genuinely feel that you could and should have won it.”
So, now you’ve got a week’s break, followed by a trip down to Rosslyn Park: what are you expecting there?
“Rosslyn Park lost on Saturday to Cambridge and lost the previous week at home to Tynedale. They seem to have come off the rails a bit recently, having played really well up until then. It will be a tough match for sure. It was tight enough when we played them a t Priory Park. They scored what turned out to be the winning score in the eight minute of overtime. We were probably guilty by that time of taking our foot off the gas and thinking we’d done enough, but we paid the price. They never outplayed us or made us feel any sort of fear. So although they’re a top of the table sort of team, we won’t be travelling with fear. We know we can match them in all departments, and we’d like to try and put the record straight. We’ve lost to them once, and that’s more than enough.”
“Part of our new strategy or at least one of our targets is beat everybody in the league. We don’t want to lose to the same team twice, even though Tynedale have just done that to us. Although it may have happened to us once, we don’t want it happening again. We’re now approaching what I call the big 5 games, with Tynedale being the first. When we went through our bad patch, Tynedale was the first of our 5 consecutive defeats. Now I’ve told the lads what we have to do is close our minds to that and really concentrate of the next 4 games and, as it were, lay that ghost to rest. It will hopefully turn out to be a testament to how far we’ve progressed since that black time.”