If you start a game of rugby on the back foot, then you’ll struggle to recover fully no matter how well you play after that. That’s the message Head Coach, Giles Heagerty, gave his players after Saturday’s disappointing loss away at Coventry. Despite playing some fine rugby and scoring 3 tries, Macclesfield Blues just didn’t have enough in the tank to overturn what had been a disastrous opening 11 minutes. What they lacked according to Giles was composure, and he’s hoping that when Macclesfield Blues face Blackheath at Priory Park on Saturday, they’ll have their game heads on from the first whistle and will have enough composure to capitalise on any chances that come their way. Here’s what Giles had to say to Macclesfield Rugby ahead of the game.
Despite scoring 3 tries the Blues didn’t get anything from the game: how are you feeling?
“It was a really disappointing result. The opening 11 minutes were a disaster, but unfortunately that’s the way it goes sometimes. You have to be firing from the first whistle or you’ll get punished in this league. You can’t put yourself under unnecessary pressure from the kick off like we did, because sides like Coventry will put you under the pump – and they did. We only touched the ball twice in the first 15 minutes, but once we got our hands on the ball and started playing some rugby we showed that we were going to be effective.”
“Obviously losing Tom Eaton at 9 was a blow, but having said that Greg Newton came on to replace him, and though I don’t think he’d played 9 before he did a fantastic job for us. It just shows that the attitude and spirit of the players wasn’t dampened by that disastrous opening 11 minutes. The problem was that despite that spirit and character we’d given ourselves too much of a mountain to climb. Maybe had the game gone on another 5 minutes we might have got a fourth try and at least come away with a losing bonus point.”
Did you take any positives from the game?
“What was pleasing for me was that not only did we show character and determination; we also showed that we can play some bloody good rugby. The problem was that we couldn’t capitalise on that. We had 2 visits to their 22 and got within 5 metres of their line in the first minutes of the second half, but ruined the opportunities when we panicked and made handling errors. This lack of composure at important times ultimately cost us the game. Yes we played some good rugby, yes we scored 3 really good tries, but the story of the game is that when it came to crucial moments we lacked composure, and it’s something we are going to have to address.”
What are you expecting from Blackheath this weekend?
“Blackheath are a very good rugby side. You only need to look at their results to see that they’re going really well and are consolidating their position in the top half of the table. There’s quality right through their side, so we aren’t underestimating the size of the task that faces us when they come to Priory Park. We saw down at their place that if you don’t play with composure, then Blackheath, like Coventry and other top National 1 sides, will punish you and take full advantage of that. We need to make sure we’ve got a full grip on what we’re doing. We did some really good work last night in training; a sort of extension of what we’ve been working on lately. It worked really well against Coventry, so we’ve been trying to hone this along with another couple of tactical tweaks which we hope will improve our game patterns. Hopefully these changes will put us in good stead.”
Is Tom Eaton likely to be available after coming off against Coventry?
“Tom got a really nasty dead leg last weekend, but he’s managed to get training again and will be available for Saturday. We should be able to put out a strong side. We have one or two injury concerns, but other than that we are looking good. Ollie Fewtrell won’t be available as he’s playing for Yorkshire Under 20s quarter final on Sunday, so we obviously have to let him take that opportunity. Tom Morton’s still away with England Under 20s, and Matt Smith’s out with an ankle knock, but other than that we’re pretty much at full strength.”