Can there ever be such a thing as the perfect rugby results’ weekend? The truth is, probably not, but as far as Macclesfield Blues are concerned, last the results last Saturday were probably about as good as it gets. The Blues convincingly beat Caldy at Priory Park and Darlington Mowden Park did a number on Stourbridge. That now puts Macclesfield Blues 3 points clear at the top of National League 2 North with 12 wins from 13 games. Not bad at all given the disappointment after the Birmingham Solihull game. Still, the season isn’t won or lost in December. The thoughts of Head Coach and Director of Rugby, Geoff Wappett, are firmly focused on the long game. He and coach, Andy Northey, both appreciate what matters is the league placing at the end of the season, and their game plan is focused on that, and that alone. Here’s what the Blues management team had to say to Macclesfield Rugby this week.
Does the score line paint an accurate picture, or was the game just as tough as you expected it to be?
“The game was much tougher than the score line possibly suggests. Caldy are a determined and proud team. Having said that, the lads played really well and got the sort of result the performance deserved. We were confident going into the game and were hopeful that we could come away with all 5 points. Games against Caldy are always tough, as you would expect with a Cheshire derby. So we were expecting a real fight. Caldy did push us all the way, but as the game wore on and we started to take control and build up the points. In the end the margin of victory was far more comfortable than we had expected. Any way it makes a pleasant change when you can relax a bit towards the end knowing you’ve achieved all you wanted to.”
“Unfortunately we picked up yet another injury and that kind of took the shine off the result. Young Jack Sadler came off the bench and picked up what appears to be a pretty serious knee injury. We won’t know for sure until all the medical tests and scans have been completed, but it doesn’t look great. If the injury turns out to be as serious as has been suggested then we can safely rule out Jack at the very least until Christmas, possibly longer if he needs an operation. So that spoiled what was otherwise a good day for us. Still rugby’s a physical game so you have to expect injuries like this and just get on with it.”
How well did the pack perform?
“The scrum and the set piece is a massively important part of our game, and it’s working well now. On Saturday I was pleased with the way the pack performed both on our own ball and on Caldy’s ball. We’ve built a dominant pack that’s capable of competing against the best of teams, and that gives us the perfect platform to play expansive rugby. We’re now reaping the benefits of all the hard work in pre-season. Mind you, we’ve had our problems too. Earlier on in the season we struggled with our line out, but now Sam Moss is back and fit again our line out is functioning well. Having Sam back means we’ve got two genuine hookers competing for places and that can only be good. We’ve also been fortunate in that our front row hasn’t really been affected by too many injuries, so we’ve managed to field a relatively consistent dominant front row and that makes the rest of our game flow more easily.”
Did you have one eye on the on the Darlington v Stourbridge game, or were you concentrating solely on Caldy?
“No we didn’t pay too much attention to what was going on in the game between Darlington and Stourbridge. Paul Bartle came down at half time to give us an update, but to be honest you don’t really pay too much attention to what’s going on elsewhere. There’s nothing you can do about it anyway, so what you have to do is knuckle down and concentrate on your own game. After all that’s what matters most, and that’s the only game you can affect. After the game we obviously found out that Darlington had beaten Stourbridge. I suppose that result probably suits our purposes best, but, as far as I’m concerned, you’re on a slippery slope when you start to focus on what other teams are doing.”
What are you expecting from Luctonians?
“We’ll do our homework on Luctonians over the next week and probably do some video analysis, but to be honest we tend not to spend too long on that aspect as both Andy and I have found that teams rarely stick to rigid patterns when they play. Besides which, we haven’t really got the time to devote to in-depth analysis. We’ll stick to what we do best and try and improve on what we did last weekend. What we do know is that we’ll be facing a tough and determined team. They may not have won as many games as some of the other teams in the division, but no-one’s given them a drubbing. They’re competitive on their home patch and will always make you work for points. With us being top of the league we’re there to be shot at. Other teams lift their performance when they play what many people consider to be favourites. So we’ll need to keep our concentration and focus for the whole 80 minutes. We’ll be hammering that message into the lads in training this week that if we don’t go down there and perform to our best, then we’ll struggle to come away with anything.”