After a run of 7 games without a win, Macclesfield Blues finally got their season back on track with a resounding victory over Darlington Mowden Park last weekend. It may have been a while coming, but the victory, and the manner in which it was obtained, was worth the wait for the Priory Park crowd. Macclesfield Blues now travel to Loughborough. Loughborough are a classy side, but they’ve showed patchy and inconsistent form this season; winning 4 games, but losing 6. Head Coach, Giles Heagerty, knows that the Blues will face a tough challenge this weekend against a quick and competitive Loughborough side, but he hopes that the Blues can build on last Saturday’s victory and finally start to gain some traction in the league. Here’s what Giles had to say.
You’ve said previously you were looking for a full 80-minute performance from the team: is that what they delivered against Darlington Mowden Park?
“Yes, it probably was. I would say Saturday’s performance can be put down to a very solid week of practice and maintaining good focus and the right mentality during the game. Don’t get me wrong; I wouldn’t say we were perfect as we left 2 or 3 scores out there in terms of attack. However, defensively we were spot on. Our set piece was good and our forward pack gave the backline the perfect platform to attack from. So yes, we played for 80 minutes and we maintained concentration throughout the game, and for that I’m very happy.”
You said after the game that although you were delighted with the win, one swallow doesn’t make a summer. Do you still hold to that view?
“A lot of people said a lot of very nice things to me after the game on Saturday, but I still think it’s wise to be cautious and realistic. It was just the one win after all. Having said that, I do think the players deserve a big pat on the back after the tough few weeks they’ve been through. My attitude, however, is that you’re only as good as your next game. By that what I mean is that result will mean nothing if we don’t win next week at Loughborough. My focus is solely on staying in National 1, and to do that we’re going to have to string a few good results together.”
“There’s no point giving each other High 5s if we don’t win any more games between now and the end of the season. It’s important to remain realistic. The last time we played as well as Saturday was at the start of the season against Fylde, and what happened after that? We went on a 6 game losing streak. So all I’m saying is Saturday’s victory will mean nothing unless we go to Loughborough and get something out of the game.”
Can the Blues take the momentum from Saturday’s win and replicate the sort of form they showed away from home?
“I was thinking about this this afternoon. Our away form has been reasonably good, even though we haven’t won away yet. That might sound contradictory, but if you look at some of the rugby we have played – 40 minutes at Blaydon and 75 minutes at Cambridge – you have to admit we played really well, even though we didn’t ultimately come away with the points. I know we didn’t cover ourselves in glory at Coventry and Old Albanian, but I still think in general that our away form has been relatively good.”
“I think what you have to do is forget all about the idea of home and away games, and just focus on the 80 minutes of rugby you’re going to play. That’s difficult when you have to travel long distances to play a game, but that shouldn’t be a factor this weekend, as Loughborough is hardly at the other side of the world. What we have to concentrate on is our game. We know the surface is great at Loughborough, and we know they’ll play a quick game. So we need to forget about where we’re playing, ignore the noise of what will probably be a partisan crowd, and just get on with doing our jobs.”
Will Loughborough Students present a different challenge to Mowden Park?
“I think they will. Loughborough are a side we know well. We’ve crossed swords on many occasions and they’re good rugby friends. Despite the fact that they’ve had a huge turnover of players over the years, Loughborough are a side that consistently turn out fantastic rugby teams. You only have to look at the number of their former players who are now captains in Championship teams for proof of that. They consistently produce these pedigree players, and that’s a testament to a great recruitment process.”
“They play a brand of rugby which is different to every other team in the league. They play very quickly and competitively, so we know what to expect when we go there. Every game presents different challenges, but the challenges Loughborough present are unique. What we have to do is to stop them get their heads up, because if you allow Loughborough to get a lead, you’ll come unstuck very quickly.