The players now demanding more from each other and that’s pushing our standards up

After a great result up in the Yorkshire Dales last weekend, Macclesfield Blues return to Priory Park for the last home game of the season. You might think that home advantage would make the Blues’ favourite for the win, but unfortunately things are rarely that straightforward or predictable. Cinderford are in desperate position. They’re hovering close to the relegation zone, and know that they will have to win both of their remaining fixtures f they are to retain their National League 1 status.

The only thing that can be predicted with any degree of certainty is that Cinderford will give it everything they’ve got. As for the Blues – well, Head Coach, Giles Heagerty believes that if the Team can maintain the confidence and momentum they’ve built over the last few games, then they may just have enough in the locker to overcome what will undoubtedly be a fiercely determined Cinderford assault. Here’s what Giles had to say when he spoke to Macclesfield Rugby earlier this week.

Has the team been executing the new targets you set for them a few weeks ago?

“I think we took a big step towards executing the targets last Saturday against Wharfedale. Leaving the result aside, the way that we played overall in the game was really pleasing. We did a lot of things really well: certainly our defensive organisation was spot on. As to the reasons for this upturn in form; well, it’s hard to say? Whether it’s because it’s got a little bit lighter in the evenings or whether it’s because the sun’s come out and the tracks have got a little bit harder – I’m not sure. All I can say is that’s there’s an extra spring in everyone’s step at the moment. We had a really good training session last night in which the boys worked hard.”

“We’ve been working on a new mind-set for the team, and that’s for the players to demand more of each other, and as a result of that it’s pushed our standards up. That’s not to say we’ve not been doing that all season mind you. At this stage of the season it would be all too easy for us to put our feet up. We’ve only got 2 games to go and our league position is already settled. But this is a playing group that refuses to do that. What we’re getting instead is that the players are rolling up their sleeves and getting on with it. They want to keep working and they want to get better week-on-week. When you’ve got a group like that with a positive mind-set, then targets become a lot more attainable.”

Do you think the confidence and the momentum you’ve built recently will set the team up well for not only the final 2 games but also help in the build up to next season?

“Yes – absolutely. Confidence breeds confidence. It’s the little things that really keep the momentum going though. Little things like Tom Mantell trained for a full session last night. You have to remember that this is a lad who completely knackered his knee in pre-season. If the season were to last another 4 weeks then the likelihood is that he’d play. It’s these little positive things that bring an extra spark and keep the momentum going.”

“We’ve been building towards next season since Christmas. The players, in fact, are already talking about pre-season and asking about who we’re going to play. There’s a real buzz around the camp. There are a lot of players who probably feel they haven’t performed as well as they could this year, so they want to try to make amends next season. That positive attitude really spurs the group on.”

What sort of game are you expecting against Cinderford?

“The answer to that is a really tough one. They’re fighting for their lives at the moment. They could still remain a National One side if they get the right results, so we know they’ll give everything they’ve got. In a desperate situation you tend to do desperate things. So we expect then to come at us with all guns blazing. We therefore have to be focused in what we do, and be accurate. We want to be able to dictate the tempo and speed of the game as we think this is the best way of nullifying Cinderford’s threat.”

“From our point of view we just have to play to our strengths. We’ve been fortunate in that we’ve been able to be a little more consistent in our selection over the last few games. We’re also a very different side than we were mentally when we last played them. The last game was definitely a bad day at the office, from start to finish. We learned some harsh lessons from that, but as always the important thing for us is to just concentrate on our processes and to go out and deliver.”

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