It was the type of performance that Head Coach and Director of Rugby, Geoff Wappett, would have wanted on his last game at Priory Park. Macclesfield Blues not only won with some style: they blew away Luctonians in a one-sided contest and comfortably managed to secure the winning bonus point before the half time whistle went. Still, as satisfying as that victory may have been, Macclesfield Blues cannot afford to sit on their laurels just yet. Yes they may still be sitting pretty at the head of the National League 2 North table, but the bonus point victories for both Stourbridge and Darlington mean that the pressure is still firmly on the Blues. One slip up against Preston Grasshoppers at Lightfoot Green Lane next weekend could change things dramatically. That’s why Geoff and the boys will be focusing on 3 crucial areas this week in training – concentration, consistency and momentum. Here are Geoff’s thoughts.
You must have been happy with the performance against Luctonians
“Yes it was magnificent – at times. They just couldn’t cope with what we threw at them, and we looked unstoppable. We seem to be scoring at will now, and have managed to amass 24 tries in the last 3 games. Not many teams have done that to Luctonians, so the signs are good. (Stourbridge only managed to beat them 20-15.) Obviously it wasn’t the complete performance for me, as we only really played for 60 minutes. Still, that in itself is a positive as we’re improving there too. Hopefully we’ll get a complete 80 minutes performance when we come to play Darlington at the end of the season.”
What are you expecting from Preston Grasshoppers this weekend?
“The last time we played them I was away, but my understanding after speaking to Andy was that we looked a bit tired as if we were clearly looking forward to the Christmas break after a long hard slog. We still managed to secure the winning bonus point, mind you, and limit Preston to just 1 penalty. This time round I’m expecting a similar sort of performance from Preston. They’re a tenacious side defensively and will not give anything away lightly. They’ve also got home advantage, so they’ll be even more determined. But having said that, we’ve hit on a very good run of form and we’re scoring well. I can’t see any reason why that should change this weekend”
“No disrespect to Preston but, we’ll be going there expecting to win and hopefully get the bonus point. We know we’ll have to work for it mind you, but the boys aren’t afraid of hard work. We won’t be changing anything about our game. We’re handling possession well at the moment, so we’ll stick with that and concentrate on securing our set piece. We need to get the 5 points – that’s not even up for question, because we know both Stourbridge and Darlington will be doing the same.”
Have you got one eye on what the other table-topping teams are doing?
“No – honestly we haven’t. All we can do is concentrate on our own game. We can’t change anything that happens elsewhere, so we’ll stick with doing what we do best. The chances are that both Darlington and Stourbridge will get bonus point victories this weekend, and I fully expect Darlington to get another 5 points when they replay the postponed game against Sheffield Tigers. So we’ll in all likelihood be going into the final game with a 4 point lead. Now that might sound good, but at the end of the day it still means that really we need to win that final game. That’s the only way we can guarantee winning the title. There are all sorts of other permutations you could consider, but I’d rather concentrate on more tangible matters. The bottom line is we’ve got 2 more games to go and to finish on top we need to win both of them.”