When you’ve got the ball you don’t have to tackle

The Tynedale game was close – too close in fact, but a win’s a win, particularly when you’re fighting for survival down at the bottom of the league. The Priory Park faithful would probably have preferred it if they hadn’t had to experience such a white knuckle-ride of a game, but it’s the final result that counts. At times Macclesfield Blues looked the part, particularly when they managed to retain and control the ball, but there were occasions when Tynedale were gifted possession, and true to form they punished Macclesfield Blues’ mistakes. Still, all’s well that ends well. It’s upwards and onwards on to Richmond now, hoping that the Blues can continue this impressive run of form. Here Head Coach and Director of Rugby, Geoff Wappett, talks to Macclesfield rugby about Tynedale, timing and tackling.

Were you expecting such a close encounter?

“Tynedale were a much better side than the one we met earlier on in the season. The game was close: too close in fact, but that was down to our reluctance to tackle for the first quarter. Because of that they shot into a 19-3 lead which was pretty much gifted to them. It was strange really, and not something I can rightly explain, but I take some comfort from the fact that whilst we may have dug ourselves a big hole, we managed to get ourselves out of it. We scored 3 good tries ourselves and clawed back the deficit so we went in 19-18 at half time.”

What did you say to the boys at half time?

“I pointed out to the guys that although we hadn’t really covered ourselves in too much glory early on, we’d created our 3 tries. Tynedale were gifted their 3, so we could still be confident. I said it we could stop being so generous we could go on and win this. Unfortunately we started the second half in much the same way as the first, slipping 3 or 4 tackles and letting them in to score.”

“The rest of the second half was close and tight, and really we shouldn’t have expected anything less, as Tynedale have had a couple of good wins and were in confident form. But then we started to get more ball which suited us, because when you’ve got the ball you don’t have to tackle. It’s not only that though: when we retain the ball that’s when we’re at our best.  We managed to get back in front and held on to that lead until they managed to kick a long range penalty.”

“It looked then like we’d blown it, but we kept on fighting to the end like we’ve been doing recently, and got a penalty on the stroke of full time. Tom Eaton stepped up and kicked the penalty from just inside the touchline. He hadn’t kicked well all day, but he found it when he needed to and that was it. Fantastic: 4 wins out of 4. What more could you ask for?”

Things are now going according to plan; do you think the team can manage to keep this up?

“Well hopefully. All we’re doing is exactly what we set out to do. It’s all about timing. A month ago we said if we can put a good run of form together over the next 4 weeks and pick up some points we can go into the Richmond game full of confidence, and hot to trot. We almost feel like we can take anybody on at the moment.”

“Richmond are quite a tidy side, but they’ve nothing to play for particularly. They’re lying 6th or 7th in the league so they’re not going to win it, nor are they likely to get relegated. So maybe they won’t be quite so fired up. When you’re up against it or running out in a cup match, you really are prepared to put your body on the line. When you’re in the relatively comfortable position Richmond find themselves in, people generally don’t put their bodies on the line in quite the same way. Maybe – maybe, we’ll catch them and get at them.”

Can the Blues continue this rich run of form?

“We’re just hoping that we can keep the momentum going. We’re just hoping we can keep on winning and that other teams like Wharfedale and Tynedale keep losing. Obviously we’re not in absolute control of everything, but we’re succeeding at the moment with the things we have got control over, like our own game. We’re managing to grind out wins now which we wouldn’t have done earlier in the year: a 2 point winning margin last week and 3 points the previous 2 games. Long may that continue.”

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