Birmingham Solihull preview: there’s just no margin for error

What can you say about last weekend’s game? It was nip and tuck all the way as had been predicted, and the result was in the balance right up to the final whistle. So a creditable draw was probably a fair result. None the less, had been a boxing match Macclesfield Blues would have taken the game on points as they provided the greater attacking threat. But credit to Stourbridge, their defence and resilience probably earned them a share of the spoils. So’ all in all sharing the points was probably about right. Next up is Birmingham Solihull. They surprised the Blues when the teams last met at Priory Park and went away with an unlikely victory. This time there’s far more at stake and Head Coach and Director of Rugby, Geoff Wappett, knows that this time there will be no room for excuses. Macclesfield Blues not only need to win: they will also have to come away with 5 points if they are to keep their slender lead at the top of National League 2 North. Will they manage that? Well, here’s what Geoff thinks.

You said the Stourbridge game would be tight, but did you honestly expect it to be that tight?

“Well, I did say to you last week that it had all the makings of a National League One game, and so it proved to be. It went exactly as I thought it would: 2 solid teams, striving their best to gain promotion to National One and determined to get the desired result. I’m disappointed we couldn’t get the full 5 points, but I can’t fault my players’ commitment. They worked hard and tirelessly and, on another day, might have come away with a better result.”

Were you completely satisfied with the result?

“Well, as Macclesfield’s Director of Rugby I naturally always want more. If I’m honest I think we probably deserved more as we had more of the play and posed the greater attacking threat. But at the end of the day you’re only as good as your result. We scored 4 tries to their 2, but they kicked more penalties than us – 4 out of 5, and that’s why we ended up all-square.”

“I know we had our own penalties, but none of them were in kickable distance: Stourbridge’s on the other hand, were all kickable, and you could say that we got what we deserved because we didn’t manage to maintain our discipline and gave away the penalties. We may have scored 4 tries, but we could quite easily have scored at least 3 more and put the game to bed. Things like that can be very frustrating, but sometimes it’s too easy to be critical. What’s important is focusing on the positives, and for us that has to be Sedgley Park denying Darlington a winning bonus point.”

Birmingham surprised Macclesfield last time out: do you feel you owe them one?

“Well, there may be only 6 games to go, but there are still a lot of points to play for. We have to try to get as many points as possible, starting with Birmingham Solihull at the weekend. We owe them one having lost to them at Priory Park. Birmingham are the only team we haven’t scored a league point against, so we have to rectify that. When we last played them we looked comfortable and at one point we looked as if we were coasting to victory. What made the difference were 2 ten minute periods of play where we lost our concentration and let them in for easy scores.  I don’t know what the problem was, but on that day we just seemed to lose our way. Fortunately we seem to have addressed those frailties, and now look much stronger and compact.”

“We’re managing to score lots of good tries – 130 in fact, and we look threatening every time we go forward. If we can keep our concentration and focus, and execute each of our opportunities, then I’d fancy us against any team. We know we’ve got a game on our hands, but we need to get at Birmingham Solihull right away and keep at them for the whole 80 minutes. We can’t afford to ease off this time. What we have to remember is that there are 5 points up for grabs every week; if we aren’t scoring 5 you can guarantee that either Darlington or Stourbridge will be. So there’s just no margin for error anymore.”

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