Whist it would have been great to end the first half of the National 1 season with a win at Priory Park, it just wasn’t meant to be. Despite a great first half performance and some thrilling attacking rugby, Macclesfield Blues came up short against a spirited and determined Wharfedale side. Ill- discipline and one or two slightly dubious officiating decisions put paid to any hopes of the home side ending the season on a high.
Still, the commanding nature of the first half and the clear threat that Macclesfield Blues were able to pose gave Head Coach, Giles Heagerty, confidence for the future. In spite of the team’s lowly performance, he knows that their destiny is still in their own hands. All it takes is one good performance and a little bit of luck and the Blues’ season could be back on track. Here’s what Giles had to say when he spoke to Macclesfield Rugby after the Wharfedale game.
In spite of the narrow loss against Wharfedale you must have been pleased with the nature of the performance?
“Definitely. It was a pretty good performance all round in my opinion. There were times in the first half where we played some of our best rugby of the season. That part of the game was very pleasing indeed. It was just a shame that the contest had to be shaped by officiating. When we were reduced to 13 men in the second half the game was effectively lost. Give a side like Wharfedale that sort of advantage and I’m afraid they’re going to take it. I wouldn’t like to comment on the actual nature of the tackles themselves, but having reviewed the video since I’d have to stay that the decisions were questionable at least.”
Still, you must surely take something out of that improved performance?
“Oh, I do: I’ll definitely take the positives out of that performance. It gives me confidence in the players going into the Cinderford game, and it gives the players confidence too. We had key players missing but still played some really great stuff. It was great to have Chris Jones back too. Our attacking shape was excellent in the first half, and was just as effective when we had 15 players back on the field in the last few minutes of the game. We showed that we can score some really good tries, and that has to give me confidence going into the next match.”
What are you expecting against Cinderford?
“Obviously going to Cinderford will be no easy task, given they’re coming there off the back of a hard-fought victory against Richmond. It won’t be easy at all, but the boys seem to be getting increasingly confident in the way we’re playing and have adapted to the new type of game plan we’re utilising and that is making a huge difference to us. Hopefully we can build on that, and take that level of performance into the Cinderford game.”
The Blues have their share of injuries in key playing positions, but are all the remaining players fighting fit and ready to go?
“I don’t think you’ll ever reach this part of the season and find that everybody is fighting fit. It’s an attritional league so everybody has got various bumps and bruises. Still that’s the nature of league rugby and playing a 30-game season. But we’re in as good a shape as we could be at this time of year. We’re very fit as a team as the boys have been working hard on their conditioning, and the medical team have been working their socks off to ensure that everyone is in as good a shape as they can be. So although we have got a couple of key players who we won’t see again until after Christmas, the rest of the players are fit and ready to go.”
“Mind you, we are looking forward to having a week off over Christmas, but who wouldn’t be? But for now we’re purely focused on Cinderford. Once we’ve got that out of the way, we’ll look towards Fylde. By the end of Saturday we’ll have played everybody, so we’ll know where we’re up to and what they’re capable of; and we’ll know what we have to do to keep going and giving ourselves further opportunities to pick up points.”