It’s always great to bounce back after a defeat, especially if that defeat was at home at Priory Park. Still, the loss against Jersey was no disgrace considering their resources and the strength in depth of their squad. What it did mean, however, was that Macclesfield Blues were expected to get back to winning ways for the next match. The problem is that when that game is an away fixture, and against a team which doesn’t like to give in, it’s going to be a tough ask. Still, all the squad were aware that the game could turn into a potential banana skin: Head Coach and Director of Rugby, Geoff Wappett has made sure the team was aware. He knew that Cinderford would be a tough nut to crack, and that there is never such a thing as an easy win, so he’d made sure the Blues were well drilled and ready to fight to the end. Macclesfield Rugby caught up with Geoff this week and talked rugby, bonus point records and reason.
Were you happy with the result and the way the boys played at the weekend?
“Yes I was overall. We played pretty well. Granted, we had a bit of a sleepy start, but we pulled it round in the end. Cinderford started off well and nearly caught us out. We almost conceded in the first minute, and then did concede two minutes later. It was like we were caught cold, but we gradually wrestled back control and started to look comfortable. It didn’t help that we were playing against a strong wind, but what you might think would happen doesn’t always happen. Normally the advantage would go to the team playing with the wind, so you’d assume Cinderford would have been on top, but we managed to keep them controlled. When we had the wind with us in the second half, Cinderford played the better rugby, well, initially at least. It just goes to show that you shouldn’t believe everything you’re told.”
So, how do you compensate for windy conditions yet keep your game plan on track?
“What you have to do when you play in conditions like that, is to stick to a simple plan and not kick ball away. That’s what we did: we kept the ball and scored 3 tries off the back of it to their 1. At half time the message was simple: hey, we’ve got all the ammunition and the advantage, and we’ve got what it takes to go back out there, score the bonus point try and close the game down. But Cinderford came out and did to us exactly what we’d done to them against the wind. They played more concentrated rugby and didn’t kick the ball away, and for 20 minutes or so gave us a hard time.”
What turned the game in your opinion?
“It was our bonus point try I believe. It wasn’t until Jack Moorhouse scored a fantastic try that we got control again. He took a ball on the wing and with an arced run, scythed through their centres and cut their defence to ribbons. He must’ve run 35 yards and put it straight under the posts: 7 points and the game was transformed. We knew then that they needed to score at least twice, and that gave us the cushion we needed. We took control form then on in and played with composure. Anything they did after that was pretty much catch up really.”
Cinderford were described in the press reports as spirited, would you agree with that?
“Yes in the end it may look like we won at a canter, but it was anything but. Don’t get me wrong, this was hard-fought win. Cinderford were spirited and fought for everything. The one thing I said to the boys was to be wary of Cinderford’s record of gaining losing bonus points. They might have lost a few games, but they’ve got 12 bonus points I think, mostly losing ones. They only lost those games narrowly, and that’s because they never give up and fight right to the end. They’re a hard nut to crack and a real determined bunch, so we knew we’d have to keep at it if we wanted a result. That’s what made the result all the more pleasing.”
Last question, what are you expecting from Stourbridge this weekend?
“Stourbridge have won their last 2 games, and though they may have had a disappointing first half to the season, you can’t help feeling they’ve maybe turned things around. They’re on a sort of mini revival, so the same tactics here will be key: to get at them early and don’t give them anything. If we can do that and get them thinking, then it may sap their confidence and their heads might go down. What you need to do is to take some of their recent confidence away. It will be a tough old game, but if we can get amongst them in the first 20 minutes, we should be alright. Logically we should be able to win this one: but, then again how much has logic got to do with sport? ”