Macclesfield Blues retained their position as leaders of National League 2 North after a tough and gruelling win at Portway at the weekend. The Blues always knew that they were going to face a spirited Birmingham Solihull side, after coming unstuck earlier in the season at Priory Park, and so it proved to be. Birmingham Solihull fought tooth and nail for a share of the spoils right until the final whistle but they just came up short. The Blues left as winners but unfortunately couldn’t score a fourth try to secure the bonus point. So what did Head Coach and Director of Rugby, Geoff Wappett, think of the match? Was he satisfied with the performance, or did he feel the Blues could’ve achieved more? Here’s what Geoff had to say.
Are you satisfied with the result or disappointed that you couldn’t secure the winning bonus point?
“Well, the result was what we would’ve wanted, but obviously a winning bonus point would’ve been nice too. But a win’s a win. We struggled in the first half, but we were playing into a very strong wind. We didn’t play all that badly and managed to keep hold of the ball well enough, but we just couldn’t capitalise when we had good possession. The problem we found, just as we have in many of our games since Christmas time, is that if you’re playing into a strong wind on a relatively poor surface then one simple mistake can really set you back. You can have some great build-up play and get yourself into a scoring position, and make the smallest mistake and suddenly the ball finishes up 60 yards back down the field in your own half.”
“Birmingham to their credit played the conditions well. They kicked 3 long range penalty goals with the wind in their favour and a drop goal, but having said that apart from long range efforts they never really threatened our line. So we knew that when we turned round in the second half with the wind behind us we’d be able to take the game to them. We struggled to get into our stride early on in the second half, but eventually we came good and managed to score 3 tries. Granted we were hanging on at the end, but we came away with the points and that’s what matters.”
The Blues didn’t perhaps look as sharp and focused as normal: what do you think the problem was?
“I think we just looked tired – physically and mentally tired. I don’t think any supporter can fully understand just how physically and mentally draining a 30 game season can be, especially when you’re in the top positions in the league and know that you have to try and get a bonus point win every time you play because your closest competitors will probably do so too. That’s why this week’s break couldn’t have come at a better time. I’d already told the boys last week that we were going to have a complete week off from rugby with no Tuesday and Thursday training, and I think last weekend’s performance definitely shows that it’s what they need. Hopefully after this enforced rest the boys will come back to training next week refreshed and relaxed and ready for the final season’s push starting at Otley.”
So, your overall impressions of the game then?
“Well, I can’t really complain. Birmingham put in a spirited performance but I think we did just about enough to win. Birmingham Solihull are a good team and a match for anyone on their day. They’re the only team this season who have managed to deny us a league point, so their performance didn’t come as a surprise. Obviously we would’ve liked to get a fourth try, but it just wasn’t meant to be. The only consolation is that Darlington didn’t get a bonus point either against Chester, so it’s still pretty much as you were. What we have to do now is recuperate and come back firing on all cylinders so that we’re ready for Otley and the final few league games. It’s still all to play for, but we’re still in a great position with our destiny is in our own hands.”