Otley match preview: it’s the final countdown

After a much-needed mini break Macclesfield Blues are back in action this weekend renewed and refreshed. Let’s hope they can pick up where they left off and continue on a winning run of form as they head into the final 5 games of the season. Next up to visit Priory Park are Otley. Although the Blues came away with a vital win when they travelled up to Pool Road, Head Coach and Director of Rugby, Geoff Wappett, told Macclesfield Rugby that the team had been made to work for that victory. There’s little doubt that any potential victory this weekend will be just as hard-earned. Here are Geoff’s thoughts on the game and the end of season run-in.

Do you think the enforced break will have done the team any good?

“Yes, I think it will have. Hopefully the players will have come back from their week off refreshed and re-invigorated, when we get back to training tonight. The rest will set up us well for the final run-in this season. The boys were looking physically and mentally tired against Birmingham; mind you, that’s hardly surprising given the relentless fixture list and the strain of trying to stay at the top of the league. Now we’re on the final push so we all need to be focused and single-minded. We want to win the league, and we’ll do whatever it takes to achieve that.”

Are you going to do anything differently in these final 5 games or are you going to stick to the tried-and-tested game plan?

“By and large we’ll stick to what’s worked well for us so far. Having said that I believe introducing a little variety is also beneficial. So at training tonight I’ll be introducing a couple of new line out options to spice things up a little. That doesn’t mean we’re going to play in a different manner or change our style in the final few games though; we’ll stick with what we know.”

Are these minor tweaks geared towards the clash with Darlington Mowden Park?

“No they’re general tweaks that we’ll apply right across the board. Obviously I’ve got one eye on the Darlington game; as I bet Darlington have on us. I’ve no doubt that they’ll have been watching footage of some of our games in preparation for the match in April. But I don’t really hold with that type of approach. I’ve always believed that a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. Watching a video won’t help you when it comes to the actual game. Just because we’ve played in a certain way before doesn’t mean we’ll play the same way again.”

“We’re going to introduce one or two changes before we play Darlington and add a bit of variety to our game. But there’s no point only introducing these changes just before that game: it’s far better to bring in the changes now so that we’re comfortable with them when we eventually play them in April.”

What are you expecting from Otley in this reverse fixture?

“When we last played them we came into the game having lost to Birmingham. We perhaps didn’t play as well as we should’ve done, but were pleased just to get the show on the road again and come away with the victory. This time round we’re more confident. I think we’re a better side now than we were then, so I’m expecting us to put in a much-better and more-expansive performance.”

“Otley are quite a tidy side. They try and play an expansive game too, but I think that could play into our hands. We’ll be prepared for Otley attacking us from deep and wide and trying to keep the ball alive. The problem with playing an expansive game is that it only works if you’ve got the players who can execute that strategy. If teams don’t have the quality of player to run the ball from deep, then it’s a risky strategy because they are then vulnerable and can be exposed. That’s what we’ll be looking to do on Saturday – capitalise on any mistakes that Otley make in their own 22.  So, in that sense – bring it on.” 

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