For a short while at the weekend it looked like Macclesfield Blues might come away with a deserved win against Old Albanians and pull themselves out of the relegation mire. 7 – 14 up and playing well: all looked positive. Unfortunately this was followed by a 5 minute lapse of concentration in which Albanians scored 2 unlikely tries. The rest you already know. Macclesfield Blues failed to register the win they so desperately needed. Still, it’s not over til it’s over, and the fat lady hasn’t sung yet, so there’s still hope. You never know whether the extra losing try bonus point that the Blues managed to secure might be what makes the difference come the end of the season. It’s still all to play for, according to Head Coach and Director of Rugby, Geoff Wappett. Here are Geoff’s thoughts on on last weekend’s result and the challenges that still remain.
So near and yet so far: you must be bitterly disappointed to lose a game you seemed to be controlling?
“Well yes I am disappointed by the result, but it’s probably the manner of the result that makes it all the more frustrating. We’d got so far and so close, and that’s what’s the most frustrating. If you’re a million miles away, then you can probably accept losing, but when you score 4 tries and run them so close, then it really gets to you. Mind you, that’s been the story of our season really. We had a bad 5 minute spell where we lot concentration and allowed them to score 2 sloppy tries – you could almost say they were giveaways. We were winning 17 -14, and it was justified to, and within the wink of an eye we were 28-17 down.”
“Don’t get me wrong, Albanians are a good side with some terrific individuals, their centre, Lombard, and Shanahan who I mentioned last week were a real handful, but our forwards did a good job on them for most of the game. We scored 4 tries against their 4 tries, but we could only convert one of them and that made the difference. Matt O’Reagan’s not our first choice kicker and maybe the pressure got to him. It was a shame, but injuries happen.”
Could the extra 4 try losing bonus point make the difference at the end of the season?
“Absolutely. Who knows what will happen. 2 bonus points are useful, but I’d rather have had 4. We pushed them right up the end and came close through young Johnny Kenny. He’s a promising young forward who got a good steal at the line out and when we drove the ball I thought the score was on for us. Sadly it wasn’t meant to be. Still, if there’s a positive to take from that game it’s that at least we managed to come away with something. At one stage it looked like we might be denied the points we worked so hard to achieve. Anyway we’ve now got to focus on the remaining games, and put all our efforts into getting points from those. We’ve got 1 more point than Wharfedale and a better win ratio, so we’ll have to do our best to keep it that way.”
How do you the Blues will fare against Blaydon?
“We’re confident that we can go to Blaydon and come away with something. I say confident, but perhaps I should temper that. Blaydon are well placed and they’ve done well throughout the season, but never the less, we still feel good in ourselves. If we can avoid another 5 minute spell where we shoot ourselves in the foot, then I really believe we can get something out of Saturday’s game. Well – we have to, don’t we? If we can get some points then we’ll be able to go into the Fylde game with all guns blazing.”
“At the end of the day all you can do is look at the comparative results and hope that we perform better than Wharfedale. It’s as simple as that. We just hope that Richmond send their strongest possible team up to Wharfedale. That’s one of my major concerns at this time of year. If a team has nothing positive to play for, then there’s little incentive to play your strongest side. Most of the time you’re not too concerned about it, but when you’re fighting for survival down at the bottom of the table, you tend to think about nothing else. Let’s just hope that the integrity of the league is given due respect between now and the last kick of the season, because integrity is vital in any competition.”