Despite mounting a late first half come back, Loughborough Students proved too strong for Macclesfield Blues last Saturday at Priory Park. After the forced substitutions of Sam James and Marshall Gadd, and conceding 17 points in the aftermath of the changes, the Blues were forced to chase the game, and sadly they could get the momentum necessary to force the losing bonus point. Yes the performance was frustrating and disappointing at times, but Head Coach, Giles Heagerty, says the team have to put that disappointment behind them and concentrate on restoring some pride during the remaining 5 games of the season. It is, he believes, all about building momentum. Here’s what Giles had to say about the Loughborough Students and Old Albanians games.
Did the enforced Macclesfield Blues substitutions at fly half and prop change the course of the game?
“I think the substitutions of Sam James and Marshall Gadd clearly impacted on our momentum, but no, in my opinion, they didn’t change the course of the game. As I’ve mentioned many times, momentum is crucial, but it’s also fickle. I’d say it took us around 12 minutes to recover after the substitutions, and in that 12 minutes I thought we lost the game. It was a shame because we started the second half well. For the first 8 minutes we absolutely pounded them but couldn’t get over the line. We got held up at a 5 metre scrum, and realised when the dust was settling that Marshall and Sam both needed to come off. Still, these things are challenges that all teams face. Despite the best intentions of the players they were distracted by the changes and lost some of their earlier focus, and conceded 17 points in that period.”
“So the substitutions were a crucial turning point, but having said that we put ourselves under unnecessary pressure from the off. To get back level at 15 all at half time was a bloody good effort, but we’d already put ourselves under the pump unnecessarily. We knew how Loughborough were going to play and we knew who the main threat was. We even discussed how we were going to deal with it, and yet we didn’t do any of that for almost 25 minutes. That allowed Loughborough to seize the initiative and build a lead that we struggled to claw back. If we’d have played as planned maybe things would’ve been different.”
Given the Blues late fight back, were you disappointed to not at least get a losing bonus point?
“Well, yes it was a little disappointing, but in truth we probably didn’t deserve one. Yes we did score a nice try to finish, and yes we did look like we might grab a consolation point late on, but we really wouldn’t have deserved it if I’m honest. Our error count was too high during the game and we didn’t manage to get any semblance of control. Without control you’re always going to struggle.”
What are you expecting from Old Albanians?
“Old Albanians will be pumped up for the game because they’re not assured of safety yet. But I feel we have the necessary qualities to get a result. Despite our league position, our season isn’t over yet. We’ve still got 5 games to go, and whilst we might not be able to affect our position at the bottom of the table, we have to make sure we finish the season in the right way. We won’t let things fizzle out: far from it. We want to make sure we finish the season with the sort of momentum we’ve struggled to build and maintain. We know we’re still capable of messing up one or two team’s seasons, and whilst I don’t wish any team ill will, I really hope that we can do that before the end of term.”
“We worked very hard in training on some things that we can implement on Saturday against Old Albanians, which we fully expect will cause them some trouble. The level of the challenge OA’s present will be dictated by the number of loan players they have from Saracens. We certainly know they’ve got one very good forward and one good winger who they’ve had on loan. These players have helped OAs get some balance. They are a good side, and there’s no way we will underestimate them. They might have a relatively ‘lowly’ league position, but they are well-drilled and well-coached, so we know it’s going to be challenging. We’ll need to be able to dictate the game and do the things we want to do if we want to get anything from the game on Saturday.”