Head Coach and Director of Rugby, Geoff Wappett, asked Macclesfield Blues for a complete performance when they travelled down to play Luctonians at Mortimer Park last weekend and boy did they deliver. 11 tries scored and a convincing 5 point victory kept Macclesfield Blues 3 points clear at the top of National League 2 North. So was Geoff happy with that display? Were the coaching team of Geoff and Andy Northey purring after such an emphatic victory? Well, yes and no: are coaches ever happy after all? There’s always something to improve, or some area that requires extra work. That’s what coaches are there for – to take something good and make it even better. Well even hard task-masters like Geoff need to cut the team some slack now and then, and offer praise where praise is due. Here are Geoff’s thoughts about the game and what he expects from Preston Grasshoppers when they visit Priory Park next Saturday.
You must have been happy with that performance? You’d asked the lads to raise their game and apply themselves against Luctonians, and they certainly did that.
“Well, coaches are never happy when you ask them, are they? They’re always looking for something extra out of the next performance, or wanting improvements in certain areas or tighter control of game management, but in fairness it’s only when you sit back down at home in the evening that you really get the chance to reflect on things. I’d have to say that we couldn’t really have asked any more from the lads. We asked them to put in a complete performance, and they certainly delivered. 69 – 10 away from home against a team with a point to prove – well, you’d obviously take that any day, wouldn’t you? It was great to come away with another 5 point win, but what pleased me most was keeping Luctonians down to 2 scores. We kept our concentration and focus and didn’t switch off, so I’m happy with that.”
“We controlled the game from the off. We were well on top up front and were able to dictate play. We managed to speed the ball up when we needed to and our offloading game worked well. It didn’t help Luctonians’ cause when their prop had that moment of madness and got himself sent off, but we were dominant anyway so I don’t think that incident affected the overall outcome. Our scrum functioned well and our driving line out was dominant. The pack’s performance gave us some good go-forward and we were able to capitalise on this as and when we wanted to.”
Please say the Blues didn’t pick up any more injuries?
“No – fortunately. We came out of the game relatively unscathed which is good news, considering how many injuries we’re currently carrying. Billy Robinson picked up a cut eye, but he was stitched up and carried on without too much bother. Dean Williams came through the match without any further problems with his knee which was also a bonus for us. Apart from that all we picked up were various bumps and bruises which is what you’d expect from a rugby match. So there’s nothing new to worry about on that score.”
The game against Preston Grasshoppers should present quite a challenge, given their relatively good form: what sort of test are you expecting?
“Naturally we’re expecting a challenge, given the local derby nature of the match. The thing is we haven’t played Preston for 3 years since we went up to National 1. So we don’t know too much about them from that perspective. What we do know is that it will be testing. Because we’re sitting at the top of the league we’re there to be shot at. Other teams will raise their game and try to knock us off our perch. All we can do is prepare as we normally do. We’ll work hard in training this week, and try and come up with the right sort of performance at the weekend. Hopefully that will be enough to earn us the points and keep us where we are in National League 2 North.”
The Blues are playing well at the moment, but where do you think the team could make improvements?
“Well, as you say we are playing well, but every team needs to improve in one area or other. There were times in the game at the weekend where we let the game get a little bit loose. Don’t get me wrong – we were in control of the ball, but we just lost some of our concentration and let the ball fly around more than we would’ve liked it to. I think just a little more control from the half backs will fix that particularly problem. Other than that all you need to do is concentrate on cutting out any unforced errors like not throwing the ball straight into line outs or handling errors. Little mistakes like that can cost you in the long run and allow other teams back into the game.”