Macclesfield Blues kept up the pressure on league leaders, Darlington, with a hard-fought bonus point win over Leicester Lions at Priory Park. They remain just 5 points behind Darlington, but still have a game in hand. This weekend the Blues travel down to the Midlands to take on Dudley, the team languishing at the bottom of the league. Dudley may have struggled to get any sort of consistency this year, but no team is ever guaranteed a win in this league. If Macclesfield Blues do manage to come away with a bonus point win, then you can be sure that they’ll have had to earn it. So what are the Blues expecting from Dudley Kingswinford? Here’s what Head Coach and Director of Rugby, Geoff Wappett, thinks.
Were you satisfied with the team’s performance against Leicester Lions?
“Yes, I was by and large. We played pretty well overall and managed to get the business done early on. Given the weather we’ve been experiencing lately that’s was probably a good thing. In spite of the wet conditions and the swirling wind, I reckon we played pretty effectively. All credit should go to Leicester too, as they played very well and exerted a good 20 minutes of pressure on us in the second half, but we defended resolutely and came back even stronger with 2 quick tries. Leicester forced to us to work for our bonus point, so that sort of work out can only serve us well. That’s the type of performance I’m hoping we can replicate in against Dudley.”
Will the weather have a part to play this weekend?
“It could well do. Hopefully this weekend we’ll have a decent surface to play on – if we do it will be the first for some time. I’m not sure whether Dudley’s pitch has been affected by the weather, but I do know that the Midlands has taken a bit of a battering recently. If we’re forced to play in awful conditions then we’ll need to maintain our control and discipline. Whatever the conditions, I can guarantee that the boys will be going hunting.”
What sort of game are you expecting?
“Dudley have struggled in the league this year and have taken a beating once or twice, so I guess we’ll be viewed as odds-on favourites for a win. It’s a shame that Dudley are regarded as the league’s whipping boys, but I suppose the results and statistics don’t lie. But we can’t afford to be sentimental, nor can we afford to take our foot off the gas. We have to do what we have to do and go all out to score as many points as possible.”
“Points’ difference is crucial at this time of the season, especially when the top of the league is so tight. I think that having a superior points’ difference is worth at least one point, so therefore we have to work at reducing the gap between ourselves and Darlington. Darlington have already played Dudley twice and, without wishing to be unkind, I think that probably accounts for Darlington’s superior scoring rate. Hopefully we can claw some of that back this weekend. Mind you, scoring lots of points in bad weather isn’t easy. You only have to look at Darlington’s recent results for proof of that. Since the weather has turned their scoring has faded away and they’ve dropped bonus points on a few occasions. Still, the onus is on us to take the initiative and build as big a score as we can whatever the weather throws at us this weekend.”