If league form and position is any indication of potential results, then any spectator visiting Priory Park for last weekend’s encounter with high-flying visitors, Rosslyn Park, would have no doubt been expecting a very one sided affair. The fact that it didn’t speaks volumes about the character and belief of the Macclesfield Blues squad. Not only did they perform well above expectations: they pushed Rosslyn Park all the way and were unlucky to come away with just a losing bonus point. The Blues stepped up a gear and produced a performance full of pace, power and commitment, and this can only bode well for the rest of the season. It certainly pleased Head Coach and Director of Rugby, Geoff Wappett. Despite an horrendous run of injuries, the Blues stepped up to the plate and produced arguably their best display of attacking rugby this year. No wonder Geoff was delighted. Geoff spoke to Macclesfield Rugby about the Rosslyn Park game and gave his thoughts about the weekend’s crucial fixture against Loughborough Students.
You knew it would be difficult, but did you see that performance coming?
“We knew this was always going to be one tough game. Rosslyn Park were sitting comfortably in second place and playing very well. They’re a side with all round quality, lots of pace and plenty of power upfront, so we knew we had to be at our best to compete. Compete we did, and I have to say we were pretty much a match for them too. That was by far our best performance this season. We kept our focus and concentration and performed at a much higher standard for pretty much the whole eighty minutes. Whilst we may have still lost the game 25-30, at least we came away with a losing bonus point, and that for me was a just reward for our efforts.”
What positives can you take from the performance?
“Well, I suppose confidence and belief. Had we played with that quality of performance in the previous games, then we might have at least won half. It was a fine, all-round team performance and that will only add to our growing confidence. I don’t necessarily believe in singling out individuals for praise, but Mike Finnemore, in on the flank for the injured Ryan Parkinson, put in a commanding performance. What makes this all the more remarkable is that this was his debut. Frankie Barker was influential too in a particularly effective back-row. We were able to convert possession into points at last and scored three classy tries with Tom Eaton converting a penalty from long range to justifiably earn us a bonus point right at the very end – it was no more than the team deserved.”
Does this performance change things, or do you still have concerns about the rest of the season?
“Well, it’s encouraging but we’ve got to be realistic. We are in the basement of the League – the relegation zone – and it’s going to be a long, hard season where we’ll need to scrap for every single point going. It’s something we haven’t experienced before at this level, so it will be challenging. If we’re going to get out of this predicament we’ll need everyone at the Club – and by that I mean players, staff and to get behind the team and give them all the encouragement and help they can muster.”
“Mike Carolan and his team are trying desperately hard to reduce the injury list and get players back onto the field quickly, but we’ll all have to be patient and understanding. You can’t escape the relegation dog fight overnight. If the players can reproduce performances like the one against Rosslyn Park, then there is every good reason to believe we can maintain our presence in this League. Confidence is key……positive support is everything.”
So, what are your thoughts about the Loughborough game?
Loughborough are in a similar situation to us, so that makes this game doubly important. You could rightly argue that this game is potentially a 10 pointer. Loughborough Students are not used to being in the lower positions in the League, so they will be coming to Priory Park equally determined to take the points home. There is still a lot of rugby to be played before the end of the season, but even though this will only be the eight game of the campaign, it could have a profound effect on the future of both Clubs. The spectator will no doubt be the main beneficiary – the Loughborough /Macclesfield encounters have been particularly good in the recent past, and I have a feeling that Saturday might throw up something special.”