What we still need to improve is our decision making under pressure.

After winning the last 2 home games at Priory Park and extending Macclesfield Blues’ record to 10 straight wins on the bounce, you’d expect Head Coach, Giles Heagerty, to be very happy with his lot right now. Yet, Giles’ frank assessment of last Saturday’s performance against Leicester Lions was that the team missed too many opportunities and didn’t control the game as well as he would’ve liked. He was happy with the result, of course, and with the manner of the victory, but he knows there’s still more to come. So where does Giles still see the need for improvement? What, in Giles’ opinion do the Blues have to do to finally deliver the definitive performance?

Was the Leicester Lions game as close as it gets to a complete performance in your opinion?

“No, unfortunately it wasn’t. Clearly we did some very good things in scoring 6 tries and preventing Leicester Lions from scoring a point. So that was really satisfying, but unfortunately some of our decision making on kick receipt was pretty average. We missed 2 or 3 opportunities which we should’ve put away, and there was a passage in the second half where we just seem to start playing 7s.”

“We lost focus on what we’re good at, and as a result of that Leicester managed to get back into it a little. It was only some sterling defence on our part in the last 10 minutes that allowed us to keep the score at nil. Don’t get me wrong, preventing Leicester scoring anything wasn’t necessarily a goal for us; but once you’re in that position it’s nice to keep hold of it. So overall, a good performance, but we’ve still got things we need to improve on.”

Where do you see the need for improvement?

“What we still need to improve is our decision making under pressure. If the players were guilty of anything, it was probably overthinking things. If you’ve got 3 or 4 options open to you in play, then it’s usually best to go with the first option – the gut feeling if you will. If you dither and work through the options in your head, then by the time you’ve considered options 1 and 2 the opportunity open to you has generally gone.”

“Because we prevaricated we missed opportunities we should’ve taken. That’s not down to the individual in control of the ball: it’s also down to the support players providing the information to the player with control of the ball. There were 2 or 3 glaring examples of where we made poor decisions and put ourselves under unnecessary pressure. If we’d gone with our instincts we’d have either got ourselves out of trouble by running the ball out of danger or got ourselves decent field position. So these are issues we will be addressing in training.”

What have you made of Huddersfield so far this season?

“It’s obvious that Huddersfield have been having a tough time of it lately, but they’re still a side that can play some good rugby. Like every other team in National League 2, they’re capable of beating anyone. I set little store by league position, because judging by the videos I’ve seen of them they’re a good side. They’ve got a good set piece, a handy 10 with a decent kicking game, and they are tenacious and have the ability to stay in games right to the end. You only have to look at the game they played against Sale last weekend: that game could’ve gone either way right to the end. They’re a good side, and they’ve got home advantage, so we’re expecting a tough game.”

Will the weather play a part in the outcome?

“I don’t know what conditions are like in that neck of the woods at the moment, but if the conditions are anything like what we experienced at Harrogate, then yes, it may well do. From our point of view the weather has also frustrated us too. We’ve not had a great week at training because the rain has managed to take out one of our fields. Still, whatever the weather holds for us, we’ve got to stay focused and on-task, because this is a big game as far as we’re concerned. If we don’t prepare properly and take the game seriously, it could quite easily be a banana skin.”


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