How many times have you heard the phrase ‘it’s a funny old game’? Jimmy Greaves may well have been referring to football, but the phrase can be equally valid in a rugby context, particularly when it comes to Macclesfield Blues. Once again the Blues left Priory Park with maximum number of points at the weekend and now head National League Division 2 North with a record of 7 wins out of 7. However, it really was a funny old game. For the fifth consecutive game Macclesfield Blues had to come from behind to grab the spoils. At times they looked unstoppable, yet recurrent lapses in concentration meant that the game was far from the foregone conclusion that many supporters had expected. So are these lapses in concentration causing sleepless nights for Head Coach and Director of Rugby, Geoff Wappett, or is he more sanguine about the situation and able to take these small setbacks in his stride? Well, no surprises for guessing that Geoff hasn’t been worrying too much, though it’s an issue that he and the players know they will need to address quickly. Here’s what he had to say to Macclesfield Rugby.
Well it was a good result built on a strong attack, but there were faults and lapses in concentration once gain. Would you call that performance a ‘funny old game’?
“I think I’d prefer to call it an ‘interesting game’. Obviously I’m pleased with the result obviously as it was built on the back of a strong attacking performance which brought us another 5 points, but it certainly wasn’t a performance without faults. For the first 20 minutes we were rampant. We kept hold of the ball well and kept up a good intensity, and were rewarded for that with a couple of tries and a penalty. Then, we started to lose our way a little bit. To make matters worse, Tom Eaton got binned, and then our game lost its shape. In the last 20 minutes of the half we just did some daft things, and made decisions that were hard to understand. To be fair to Harrogate they took full advantage of our lapses in concentration and played themselves right back into the game, going in with a 5 point advantage. Given what had happened in the first quarter you could never have seen that coming, but there you go.”
How did you address this loss of concentration?
“Well, let’s just say that words were spoken during the break, and obviously those words hit home. That’s the fifth consecutive week we’ve gone in at the break trailing. Now, obviously we weren’t trailing by many points, but it’s a bit of a worry none the less. Still, we currently have the ability and momentum to dig ourselves out of these potentially tricky situations. As soon as the players got back on the field they had a golden patch for around half an hour and scored a further 5 tries, giving us a 42-20 lead. I know Harrogate scored another try late on, but that shouldn’t detract from our fine second half performance.”
Is this inconsistency likely to be a problem as the season progresses?
“No, I don’t honestly think so, but never the less, it’s an issue we need to address. We’re playing some jolly good stuff at the moment, but unfortunately this is intermingled with periods of play where we lose focus and concentration. We know that if we can manage to keep our concentration for the whole 80 minutes, then we have the necessary fire power to get results against most teams. We’ve currently got the ability to get ourselves out of tricky situations, so the alarm bells aren’t ringing. We’ve got sufficient quality in the team to turn things around, and, the good thing is we know we can definitely get better. If we work hard on keeping our focus we know that we have the capability to be very good team indeed. Our aim now has to be on getting teams on the floor and putting our feet on their throats. If you let the better teams in this league up again, then you’ll ultimately pay a heavy price.”
Will you need to be fully-focused when you visit Leicester Lions this weekend?
“Yes, we definitely will. Leicester Lions are a team that can make life very difficult for us. Leicester Lions have always been capable of producing good results over the years. If there’s been a problem, it’s been one of consistency. Occasionally when you look at the sides they field you can start to worry, and yet they have the habit of always finishing up in mid-table. Why that should be the case I can’t really say. We can’t be sure what sort of Leicester Lions side we’ll face this weekend, but having said that, when they play at home we know they are a pretty strong outfit, so we’ll have to work hard to get anything out of the game. Previous games against the Lions don’t really have too many happy memories for us, but I’m not a great believer in paying too much attention to the history books. Going down there isn’t like going to some sort of fortress; after all we’ve both got 15 guys and a pitch to play on. So forget what’s happened in the past: what we need to do is stop being generous, keep our focus and just get on with it.”