It’s probably that not well known outside the dressing room at Priory Park, but before the start of the season Head Coach and Director of Rugby, Geoff Wappett, gave his side some targets. He told them that not only did he want them to come through September undefeated, but he also wanted the Blues to score the maximum number of winning bonus points. Well, his wishes have been granted and now Macclesfield Blues sit jointly at the top of National League 2. Where do they go from here? Well, if form is anything to go by, Geoff will be demanding just as much for October and no doubt for the rest of the season. Last time they were in this league the Blues only lost 3 matches all season. What’s the betting they’ll be hoping to beat that record? Well, odds on we reckon. If they carry on playing the way they are and learn to be even more clinical, then few would bet against them achieving that goal. Here’s what Geoff had to say to Macclesfield Rugby about the Sedgley game and the weekend’s visit form Bromsgrove.
The team have managed to achieve September’s goal of winning all 4 matches with bonus points: are you a happy man?
“Well, what can I say? Another 5 points and a full house in September: it can’t be bad, can it? Having said that we’re not naïve though: we know there are still some improvements we need to make. Still, in spite of that I’ve got to be happy with the way we’ve been playing. We were convincing winners at Park Lane last weekend. We were defending well, winning ball, using it well and scoring tries, so I’m happy enough with that.”
Did anyone in particular stand out for you at the weekend?
“Well, the whole team played well. The back row of Finnemore, Parkinson and Parker were outstanding. They are playing extremely well as a unit and individually. Having said that so are Dave Marwick and Dean Williams: our ‘little and large’ second row pairing are also playing extremely well. Both may have contrasting styles of play, but they’re both equally effective in their own way. Dave Marwick is doing a fantastic job leading the forwards. Some of his mauling work and his ability to upset and disturb the opposition is outstanding. He’s using his vast experience to great effect. That’s without even mentioning the big chaps in the front row. Mantell, Robison and Blackwell have been a real handful. They’ve come to terms with the new scrummaging laws: with good technique and great timing they’re creating havoc. Then if you add into the mix that we’ve now got young Bester there as well, then I think we’ve got a front row that can compete with any team in this league.”
Was the performance all you’d hope it would be?
“Well, yes it was I suppose. The pack is serving up some great ball for our backs and thankfully we’re capitalising on these opportunities. The opening try last weekend is a case in point. Mike Barlow’s try was all about great teamwork, great forward driving play, great inter-passing and moving the ball quickly through the hands across the park. We stretched Sedgley so wide that they had no defensive answer when Mike powered over to score early on. Mat King’s try 15 later was pretty much a carbon copy on the other wing. Barker picked the ball up and drove down the open-side past the scrum half. It went through a few hands to open up the space and King scored on the right wing. At that stage we were able to stretch Sedgley and open them up at will. The score may be a little flattering but I think we more than earned it. Still, we may have beaten Sedgley, but you just know that not too many teams are going to go up there and come away with anything. So when you take that into account it makes the achievement all-the-more remarkable.”
Any negatives that you can think of?
“Well, if we’ve got a fault it’s that we have a tendency to get sloppy, particularly when we feel we’re on top. Maybe it’s that the lads feel the threat is over so they take their foot off the gas. That’s something we have to tighten up over the next few weeks. The problem is that we have to be ruthless to be successful. If you’ve got someone down on the floor with your foot on their throat, you shouldn’t let them get up again. Otherwise, you’ll have to do it all again, and that’s something we shouldn’t need to be doing. Still, I don’t want to be too critical. We’ve proved that we’re more than capable of raising our game and beating all the teams that have come before us: what we have to do now is maintain that consistency in our performance and carry on doing what we’re doing well, just with a few defensive tweaks.”
Any thoughts about Bromsgrove?
“I don’t know anything at all about Bromsgrove, other than what they’ve done so far this season. I know they lost their 3 games and narrowly beat Hull at the weekend, but that’s about it. The problem is I don’t think Bromsgrove and Macc have ever crossed paths before as far as I’m aware. But that doesn’t change anything. As I’ve always said, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, so it’s often better if you don’t have chapter and verse about the opposition. All you can do is go out and play what’s in front of you and play to your strengths. We’re good solid team, and on our day can be a handful for anyone. What we’ll do is concentrate on what we do best – use our strong pack effectively and make Bromsgrove work for any sniff of possession. If we do that, and we do it well, we’ll hopefully give the Priory Park supporters something to cheers about.”