So normal service was resumed at Priory Park at the weekend. The defeat away at Jersey was laid to rest and the fight resumed for the coveted sixth place. Cinderford were despatched in a relatively routine victory once the wind-factor was overcome. It may have looked a close score on paper, but anyone who was at the game would tell you the victory was much more comfortable than the score suggests. The Blues dominated the second half and were good value for their win. So sixth place is secure this season, but is that enough for Head Coach and Director of Rugby, Geoff Wappett? Is he prepared to simply settle for a comfortable league position, or is he looking for more? Here Geoff talks to Macclesfield Rugby about his expectations for the rest of the season and how he feels newly-crowned champions, Jersey, will fare amongst the big boys in the Championship.
Was the performance at the weekend what you were expecting after the thumping the team took at Jersey?
“Yes, I think it was, and I thought the team responded well after last week. It was a good win, and got us firmly back on track after last week’s slip up in Jersey. Mind you, it wasn’t as straightforward as we would’ve liked. I think the wind played more of a role than people may credit. It was quite a strong breeze and we played into it for the first half. It meant that Rory Teague caused us some awkward problems early on. Rory’s a good player and has got a hell of a punt at the best of times, but my God, he could kick it the full length of the field on Saturday with the wind’s help. That caused us problems, but we were also too generous during that first 40 minutes, so inevitably we went in down by 24 points to 11. Don’t get me wrong: we defended well, but just weren’t perhaps as focused as we should’ve been at times.”
What changed at half time? Did you throw a few teacups?
“No the team just responded better. In the second half we really rolled our sleeves up and kicked into action properly. In no time at all we’d scored a couple of tries, and had amassed 24 unanswered points until right at the death when we conceded an unnecessary try through a driving maul. Now if you look at the score, you’d probably think the match was actually closer than it really was. That sloppy score at the end made it look that way, but in truth we were well on top and good value for our win.”
Are you happy settling for sixth place, or have you still got hopes of finishing higher?
“Well, we’ve definitely secured at least sixth place which is pretty good, but we won’t just settle for that. Rosslyn Park who are 3 points ahead of us have to travel to Blackheath on Saturday and will face a tough match. Blackheath are on a real golden streak at the moment and I can’t really see Rosslyn Park getting a result there. If they come away with nothing at Blackheath, then all we have to do is get a win at Wharfedale and we could secure fifth place. So this Saturday we’ve still got plenty to play for, and I’m looking forward to it.”