Saturday’s game at Priory Park against Darlington Mowden Park had it all – with the possible exception of a home win. There was plenty of thrilling rugby, tries galore and yellow cards a plenty. Unfortunately Macclesfield Blues spirited second half comeback just wasn’t enough to tilt the tie in favour of the home side. Yes the result will have disappointed the home crowd, but what can’t be dismissed is the character and spirit of the team. Any side that can go down to 12 men and not concede a point, and almost overturn a 16 point deficit with only minutes remaining on the clock is worthy of the highest praise. That’s certainly the feeling of Head Coach, Giles Heagerty. The game may have been lost, but Giles saw positive signs in the performance which he believes will serve the team well as they battle to retain their National League 1 status. Here are Giles’ thoughts on Saturday’s game and the upcoming battle in the North East against Tynedale.
Did you enjoy the game on Saturday, other than the result?
“It was a great game, but definitely one for the neutrals. It was real thriller, but despite not picking up the win I was relatively pleased with the display. Where did it go wrong? Well, we missed 14 tackles in the first half, but only 2 in the second: that says it all really. I think we started off a little nervously, and waited to see what Darlington would do, and maybe we paid the price for that in the end. When we took the game to them, even when we were down to 12 men, we were clearly the better side.”
“It was frustrating, but we certainly showed what we were capable of. Once again we showed glimpses of what we can do and what we can achieve, but we just need to be a little more consistent in what we’re doing. It might sound odd, but in many ways it felt like we’d won the game, because to get 2 points out of the game and to go down to 12 men without conceding a point, showed just how much character this side has. That period during the second half was just remarkable. In fact it’s the first time in my coaching career that I’ve seen a side go down to 12 men and not concede a point, so I’m really pleased that the team was able to achieve that.”
Are you likely to adopt a different strategy when you travel up to Tynedale, or will you stick to what you do best?
“Well, we’re now two-thirds of the way through the season and have 11 games left to play, but I’m pleased to say we’ve now got to the point where we are able to play in 3 different ways. That was always the plan, but maybe it took a little longer than I would’ve wanted. We’re not quite a hundred per cent there yet; but we’re certainly much closer to it than we were when we played Tynedale at Priory Park. As a result of that we are able to change up the way we play during the course of the game to impact on the opposition, as we did to great effect against Darlington last Saturday.”
“We aren’t going to change our game plan in terms of how we approach the Tynedale game too greatly, but we have the ability to play in these different ways should circumstances warrant it. Obviously I don’t want to say too much because I don’t want to reveal my hand, but having said that, we have picked a team and a bench for this match that is designed to do certain things, and it’s our fervent hope that they will be able to do that and come away with the 5 points we desperately need. Although we won’t change the way we approach games, we now have sufficient bodies back to allow us to play with a little more flexibility and change things during the course of games if we need to.”
Is home form going to be critical to Macclesfield Blues’ survival in National League 1?
“I think the importance of good home form is somewhat over-exaggerated. The fact is we need to get something out of every remaining game if we’re going to have a chance of survival. I’ve said that to the players, so everyone is clear on what our goals are over the next 3 weeks. After Tynedale we’ll be playing number 1 and 2 in the league, so we’re under no illusions about the enormity of the task facing us. So we know what our goals are. When we got through these games we’ll set further goals. We’re in the position now where we know we have to get something out of every game, home and away. What gives me confidence is that we know we’re more than capable of achieving that as Saturday’s display against Darlington Mowden Park showed.”