When Macclesfield Rugby spoke to Head Coach and Director of Rugby, Geoff Wappett, last week, he said that if the Blues were going to get anything from the Loughborough game, then they’d have to front up and earn the points. The set piece would have to function well and they’d have to protect the ball better than they had been doing. Well whatever Geoff said to the team obviously did the trick, Macclesfield Blues not only came away from Loughborough with four points; they also had to come from behind twice and defend heroically for the last 10 minutes of the game as the Students piled on the pressure. All in all it was a great win that was thoroughly deserved. However, there is still much more to be done: Geoff believes Macclesfield Blues will have to build on that performance if they are to get anything from the Cambridge game at the weekend. Here’s Geoff’s thoughts on the weekend’s performance and his reflections on the tough challenges that lie ahead.
You must be pleased to have got a result down in Loughborough?
“I’m absolutely delighted with the result and the performance. I thought we played really well, and thoroughly deserved to come away with 4 points. We looked strong and competitive all the way through the game. I said last week our scrum and line out had to be on the money if we wanted to get anything out of the game, and it was. Mind you Loughborough played well too, so that pleases me even more because it meant we had to work hard to earn our points.”
“What I found very encouraging was the way we responded to going behind. When we had to dig deep we did. For the last 10 minutes we were really under the cosh. We may have been leading by 3 points at that stage but we were under tremendous pressure. Earlier on in the season we would probably have capitulated, but we’ve grown up and have found a fighting spirit that had previously eluded us.”
What else do you take from the game?
“I think Saturday’s experience will serve us well in the next few games. We’ve proved we’ve got the sort of strength and desire needed to win tight games. If we face similar challenges in the coming games we’ll have to call on those reserves again. If we can reproduce the type of form we showed against Loughborough, then I’ve no doubt we will survive.”
What’s made the difference over the last couple of weeks, and why are the results starting to go your way?
“We’ve been working especially hard at training over the last couple of weeks. We’ve been focusing on the contact area and ball retention and that’s working. We’ve also got one or two experienced players back and that’s helped enormously – having said that, we lost Edd Stobart at training on Thursday night with a hamstring injury. He’s going to be out for about 6 weeks because it’s a bad one. So we went into the game without Edd and without Tom Davenport, but everybody is really pulling together and showing a real team spirit. That’s made the biggest difference in my opinion.”
What are you expecting from Cambridge?
“Cambridge have found some form recently. They had that 100 point thumping just before we were due to play them, but because our game was postponed they had a couple of weeks to get their house in order. They fired the coach, brought in a new coaching team and a few new players. It’s pretty obvious that they’ve now stiffened things up because they only narrowly lost at home to a strong Richmond team 7 -9, and went to Fylde on Saturday and won. Having said that I’ve talked to a couple of Fylde players who admitted that they played pretty poorly and gifted Cambridge 2 or 3 tries that they wouldn’t normally do.”
“Cambridge go into this game having beaten an established side so that will boost their confidence. In some ways I’m pleased it’s happened like this because it focuses our minds. We’re not going to be playing a desperate bottom-of-the-pile side: we’re playing a much-improved side that is confident and playing well. We can’t go into this game expecting to just turn up and come away with 5 points. If we want anything out of the game we’ll have to work for it.