Anyone who thought the cancelled fixture against Fylde would interfere with the momentum that Macclesfield Blues have built over the last two months will have come away from Blackheath breathing a huge sigh of relief. The Blues didn’t just keep the momentum ticking along; they took it to another level entirely – so much for a week’s break interfering with match-day preparations. Macclesfield Blues were magnificent and put 5 tries past Blackheath. What made the performance all the more impressive was that on another day the Blues could have scored another 5 tries, and they managed to outclass Blackheath with only 13 men for much of the second half. No wonder Head Coach and Director of Rugby, Geoff Wappett, was left purring over that performance. Magnificent is the only word that adequately describes it. Here Geoff talks to Macclesfield Rugby about finally escaping from the drop zone, his targets for the rest of the season and the impending visit to Priory Park of in-form Esher.
How does it feel to have finally got your nose in front of Wharfedale?
“Well it’s good to have finally achieved it, though the important thing is to keep the momentum going. In a whole lifetime of being into rugby I can never ever claim to have been vaguely interested in how Wharfedale RUFC did on any given Saturday; but I am now. After our thrilling victory at Blackheath on Saturday we’ve climbed out of the relegation zone and lead Wharfedale by 4 points, after they were snowed off against Coventry. The minimum requirement to stay in the League is to have the same number of points that Wharfedale get – we have won 12 games at present they have won 8. If two teams have the same number of points, the team with the greater number of wins assumes the higher position – we hope to do a good deal better than that, but survival is our single, clear-cut target. We also have to visit The Dales on April 13, and that could be a match with a big, big prize.”
Just how pleased were you with such a magnificent performance against Blackheath?
“The only way to really describe it is to say that I was absolutely delighted. We travelled to Blackheath with an air of confidence, – a confidence hard-earned by winning our last 6 games. We were a very good side in every phase; we scored five tries and possibly could have scored another five. We got at them from the first minute and they rarely had any time on the ball – our pack were in a predatory mood led by outstanding performances from Ryan Parkinson, Dave Marwick and Matt Owen. We can talk about enthusiasm, but the word doesn’t really do justice to what we saw last weekend. Real enthusiasm is easily identifiable. You can recognise it when it’s really there, and we had that sort of enthusiasm right throughout the team. When you’re bouncing around like that you can become almost unbeatable. ”
“Although Blackheath fired more confidently in the second half they were quietened by our fourth try giving what seemed an unassailable lead. That was until disaster struck on the hour. A tackle by Martin Kent wasn’t to the liking of a large portion of the crowd or the Blackheath players and there was a bit of a “dust-up” As a result Kenty was binned and Ed Stobart was shown red. The play was restarted with a scrummage 5 metres out, and the referee didn’t hesitate in going from there to under the sticks for a penalty try, taking the score to 25-13. These Macc boys have character and determination: they were not in a mood for giving up the game. Not only did they not concede again with only 13 men, they scored a super try conceived from driving and close-quarter passing and went under the posts to take the score to 32-13. We got ourselves out of a difficult situation when we were down to 13 men, but we overcame that, and when you can do that you know you’re firing on all cylinders.”
The result must give the boys great confidence going into the Esher game at the weekend. What are you expecting?
“Esher were a good side when we played down there, but even though they’re riding high at the moment they won’t be looking forward to coming to us. They certainly know that they’ll be in for a difficult afternoon, and they’ll have to brace up. You never know what you’re going to face, but we’ll be at home, and we haven’t lost at home since the middle of November. If we could beat Esher and head to Wharfedale with their scalp on our belts, then that would give us tremendous confidence.”
“Whatever the outcome on Saturday, or the outcome of the season, the Macc boys are a determined bunch who have a healthy regard for self-preservation – they are kicking and fighting to survive – and they will give the Macc crowd plenty to shout about. I thought our support for the Coventry games was the best I’ve experienced in my five years at Macc – I know how much the boys appreciated you spectators getting behind them in such an enthusiastic manner – please – more of the same as Esher are a fine side and we’ll need all the help you can muster.”