As season openers went, Saturday’s game against Darlington Mowden Park was just what the doctor ordered. Head Coach and Director of Rugby, Geoff Wappett, wanted Macclesfield Blues to hit the ground running, and the team duly obliged, much to the delight of the Priory Park crowd. Darlington Mowden had come to Macclesfield Rugby club with a glowing reputation having finished third in the league last season, but they proved no match for the superior physicality and aggression of the Blues. In the end the score looked comfortable, but that wasn’t necessarily a true and accurate reflection of the whole of the 80 minutes. Darlington had their moments, but thankfully those moments were few and far between. Here’s what Geoff thought about Saturday’s performance and his views about the upcoming fixture over at Sheffield.
Was that as pleasing a performance as you could’ve wished for?
“Well, yes it’s just what I wanted and I’m delighted by the performance. It’s exactly the sort of start I was looking for. For the first 15 – 20 minutes we were dominant. We played some tremendous rugby and looked irresistible. Darlington hardly touched the ball in that period, and when they did get hold of it we quickly turned the ball over.”
“Unfortunately one of their players took a knock to the head which delayed play by about 25 minutes, and that break in play it rather spoiled our rhythm. We just struggled to build the momentum back up to the level it had been before the break, and that gave Darlington a chance to get a foothold in the game. Within minutes of the game restarting they scored a soft try having taken the ball in our 22. In the end it didn’t matter, but these are the sort of issues we’ll need to address as the season progresses. Concentration is key at all times.”
“In the second half we got going again, but maybe not quite as effectively as during that blistering first 20 minutes. Once we’d scored the bonus point try it was effectively over as a contest. Whether that explains why we let them in to score 2 breakaway tries from inside their own half is another matter. It’s that issue of concentration again. Still, I shouldn’t nit-pick, as our performance was very pleasing overall. Our scrum and line out worked well, and we found no difficulty in adapting to the new scrummage laws. We also made a number of line breaks and supported play very well. I would hope as the season gets going properly that we’ll be able to turn more of those line breaks into tries. All in all we were really pleased with the day’s performance and that can only bode well for the rest of the season.”
What do you know about Sheffield Tigers and what sort of reception are you expecting?
“There’s not a lot I can say about Sheffield at the moment. I mentioned it last week, and the same rules apply. I don’t know too much about most of our opponents yet, but that will change as the season wears on. All I do know is that they lost at home at the weekend to Preston Grasshoppers- 16-3. I can’t use that result as a measure really, because I don’t know how good Preston are at the moment. I’ve read the small report in the Rugby Paper, but that doesn’t really tell you all that much. All I can guess is that as there was only 1 try scored in the game, Sheffield must be doing OK defensively. As far as attacking is concerned, I guess we’ll find out at the weekend. All we can do in the circumstances is forget about the opposition and concentrate on our own game and make sure we play to our strengths.”
“We’ve been working on getting our players in attacking positions and making sure we have the support to capitalise on those opportunities. By and large that strategy was working at the weekend. What we need to do is keep concentrating on this aspect of our game and making sure our players don’t give away penalties by going to ground. They’ll have to learn to stay on their feet until the supporting players have caught up with them. But, all in all, Andy and I are very encouraged by the performance and know that we can build on it. If the rest of the season goes the same way we’ll be more than happy.”