Macclesfield Blues are on the road again this weekend as they travel to Paton Field to take on Caldy. In spite of conceding an inordinate number of penalties last weekend against Otley, Macclesfield Blues will travel to the Wirral with confidence. Currently they sit 3 points clear at the top of the league and are playing with real purpose and determination. However, the Blues know that not only will they need to win this weekend: they’ll need to come away with a bonus point too if they’re to keep up pressure on both Stourbridge and Darlington Mowden Park. Head Coach and Director of Rugby, Geoff Wappett, knows that Macclesfield Blues may well be in the driving seat at the moment, but he also understands that all it takes is just one poor performance for the wheels to come off the Blues bandwagon. Here are Geoff’s thoughts about the Caldy game and the top-of-the-table showdown between Darlington and Stourbridge.
How do you think the Blues will fare at Caldy?
“Well, it goes without saying that what we have to do is go there and win, preferably with a bonus point. We can’t afford any slip ups with only 4 games remaining. Logically we should be too strong for them, but sport and logic have proved to be very odd bed fellows in the past. We beat them comfortably at Priory Park, but this time they’ll have home advantage. What every team will get with Caldy is a fight. They’re a very proud team and will make you work for any victory you earn. The onus is on us, therefore, to take the game to them and keep them under pressure for the full 80 minutes.”
How do you respond to the criticism that sometimes Macclesfield Blues can look too casual?
“Well, I can’t agree with that particular sentiment. Yes, sometimes our attitude and our casual approach can make it look like we take things for granted, but I can assure you that we most certainly won’t be taking anything for granted from now on in. As far as I can see our single biggest enemy between now and the final game of the season at Darlington is ourselves. We have to ensure that our attitude is right going into these final games, and we have to stay focused on the job in hand. If the players concentrate and perform to their capabilities then they’re definitely good enough to take the title.”
“They won’t need any extra motivation from me there. Few players have the opportunity to lift silverware in their careers; some will perhaps win a cup or two but few will win a league. Winning a league is extra special: to lift the trophy you have to perform consistently over the course of 30 games and that takes determination, backbone, spirit and more than a little skill. Any one of the top 3 teams could blow their chances by performing badly in the remaining games. We just have to make sure that we don’t. The opportunity is now there for the taking, so it’s up to the boys to show that they’re worthy of it.”
What about the clash between Stourbridge and Darlington – is there such a thing as an ideal result?
“This weekend’s match-up between the two teams is an intriguing one: it’s a match of two contrasting styles. Darlington come into the game on the back of a convincing win, whereas Stourbridge struggled to get their bonus point victory. I think on balance I’d make Darlington the favourites as they’re the most attack-minded side. Now the grounds are drying up a bit it’s more suitable for their style of play. Having said that, if Stourbridge’s forwards can get to grips with Darlington’s pack and starve them of possession, maybe Stourbridge will take the honours. Either way it’s likely to be a close and tightly-fought contest.”
“If Darlington win it will increase the pressure on us, but that’s something we’ll just have to deal with. All I can hope is that whichever side wins they don’t get a 4 try bonus point. As far as results go, I’m not a betting man but I’d prefer to see the match end in a draw, with neither side scoring 4 tries. If we can win against Caldy we could then put a little more daylight between us and them. If Stourbridge lose I think it could effectively rule them out of contention. The battle for the league would then be between ourselves and Darlington, assuming we continue to win our own games of course.”