Any hope of Macclesfield Blues coming away with the points at Cinderford last weekend disappeared during the course of the second half. The Blues had been superior up to that point both in terms of the quantity and quality of possession and the number of scoring chances created. What let the team down ultimately where the handling errors and lapses in concentration. You might think, well there’s nothing new there then, as this has been a problem for the team since the start of the season, but Head Coach and Director of Rugby, Geoff Wappett, would take issue with you. He saw something different about the team at the weekend, and in spite of the loss, he remains confident that all it will take is one good performance and maybe a little good fortune for the Blues to get their campaign back on track. The signs are there and fortunately the injuries are starting to clear up: all the team needs is confidence and the backing of the home crowd. Here’s what Geoff had to say about last weekend’s match and the upcoming game against Cambridge on Saturday.
Are you disappointed about the performance at the weekend or worried about what happens next?
“I’m probably more frustrated than worried. Of course it was another disappointing result, but a large part of that disappointment stems from the fact that we gave away unnecessary and silly points through errors. But I don’t think things are quite as bleak as some people are saying. The problem is really only about just trying to get everything right at the right time, and at the moment it’s not happening. Although I should say things went really well in training last night, and I think I’ve identified one of the areas where we need to make changes.”
“The one thing that was brought to my attention by the Rugby Paper on Sunday is that we may have lost four matches, but so far we’ve played 3 of the current top 4 sides. I’m not suggesting that those 4 will necessarily still be the top 4 sides at the end of the season, with the exception of Ealing that is, but they’re certainly the form sides of the moment. There’s no doubt about it: Blaydon were a better side than we’ve ever played before, Sedgley were rough, tough and bossed us about, and Cinderford were on a roll and playing with a lot of confidence. I guess you could say it just turned out to be the wrong time to play these teams.”
Does the score line accurately reflect Blues performance?
“No I don’t think it does. We frankly could have, and should have won on Saturday. Don’t get me wrong, they tackled enthusiastically and really ripped into us, but we had the greater and more-threatening levels of possession. What made the difference was that we served up a series of howlers of absolutely massive proportions, in the midst of some good periods of play. That was the positive I can take from the game. Our game is starting to come back together again, and the injuries are starting to clear up. We’re hoping to see the return this weekend of Frankie Barker and Billy Robinson. So there are lots of good positive indicators: we just need to eradicate the negative ones.”
“We don’t do small errors, at the moment and its costing us. When we make these errors they invariably lead to tries. What’s frustrating is that we’re giving away scores which teams don’t have to work for. It spoils the other positive things we do. I’d say we had 65 percent of the possession on Saturday and got into some excellent field positions, and then dropped a howler and ended up conceding stupid tries.”
So Cambridge are next up at Priory Park: could this be the game that turns the season?
“I think the start of our season is definitely imminent. Hopefully it will be on Saturday against Cambridge. I think we’re certainly capable enough and have the talent to do it. We just have to get back on the horse this weekend and show what we’re really capable of. There’s no better place to do it than at home at Priory Park. This is where home advantage is vital. A large vociferous crowd can make such a difference. I always tell the players that we can’t expect the crowd to win it for us: that’s our sole responsibility. But what we can do is give the crowd something to shout for. I think once we get over that initial hurdle and get the first win on the board, we should be OK from then on in. I just hope we jump that hurdle this weekend, and with the crowd’s help we will do.”