Under normal circumstances on any other Saturday a draw and a try bonus point up at Blaydon would normally have been a standout result. Unfortunately these aren’t normal circumstances. Macclesfield Blues are in a dogfight and desperately trying to retain their status as a National League One club. As good as the Blaydon result was Wharfedale’s unlikely win against Richmond has really put the cat amongst the pigeons. Both teams now stand level on 57 points, but Wharfedale have an important game in hand. So getting something from the local derby with Fylde is now more crucial than ever before. Macclesfield Rugby caught up with Head Coach and Director of Rugby, Geoff Wappett, ahead of the crunch match with Fylde. Here’s what Geoff had to say.
You must have felt an equal measure of delight and disappointment when the final whistle went at Blaydon.
“That’s exactly how I felt. You couldn’t really have put it better. If circumstances were different and we weren’t in a dogfight at the bottom of the table, that result would’ve been marvellous. After all Blaydon are sitting in third position at the moment and had their best run in the league ever. Under normal circumstance you’d be delighted to go there and score a try bonus point and come away with an honourable draw. Unfortunately these aren’t normal circumstances. As pleased as I was with the result and the performance I couldn’t help but be disappointed, as we were only a hair’s breadth away from coming back with all 5 points. So it was a strange result I guess, and I was left with mixed and conflicting emotions: glad that we performed so well, but disappointed that we didn’t come away with all the spoils.”
Surely there must be something positive to take from that performance?
“Well, yes there is – definitely. For all the disappointment, I still have to say that it was a bloody good effort all round. Everybody did everything that could’ve been expected of them, and stayed focused and concentrated. And we achieved all of that without our recognised fly half. So that made it a tremendous effort. We scored 4 really good tries and defended pretty well throughout the game.”
How did you feel when you heard about Wharfedale’s win?
“Well, Wharfedale winning hasn’t exactly helped our cause, has it? But then again, if we hadn’t shaped like we did, our position would already have been sealed. So our destiny still lies in our hands. We have to concentrate on our game, and let the rest take care of itself. If we get 5 points against Fylde on Saturday and Cambridge beat Wharfedale it’s all over – we stay up. Easily said obviously: less easily achieved, but you just never know.”
“At the end of the day we just have to do as well as we can. To be fair to the boys, in recent weeks our form’s been pretty good. What we haven’t done, and this is a great credit to the boys, is we haven’t curled up and died. It would be all too easy to crawl into a corner and roll over quietly, but this team is made of sterner stuff. They’re a determined and focused bunch, and I know they’ll carry on fighting to the bitter end.”
What are you expecting from Fylde?
“I understand that Fylde will be bringing their strongest team, and I’m pleased about that. The league’s integrity depends on it. By the same token I sincerely hope that Cambridge and Coventry do the same. So I expect Fylde to bring their best side and to have a right good go at us. These games are always tough, so this time will be no different. We played well up at their ground last time and were well in the game by the three quarter mark. Then we conceded a couple of interception tries whilst we were camped in their half. The final margin maybe looked more comprehensive than it actually was.”
“I would anticipate us doing well on Saturday. We always been able to match Fylde defensively and hold our own. Where we’ve struggled is in coping with their pace. They attack from deep and they attack at speed from all areas of the park. That’s their biggest strength, yet sometimes it can occasionally be their Achilles heel. Sometimes they try to play out from deep positions when it just isn’t on. A 4 try bonus point win isn’t fantasy island: with the way we’re playing and our determination and commitment, anything’s possible.”