Last weekend’s victory at Harrogate may have extended Macclesfield Blues’ lead at the top of National League 2 North to 6 points, but it wasn’t necessarily a rugby match to set the heart racing. The weather saw to that. Both teams like to play open attacking rugby, but what should’ve been a thrilling match was ruined by the weather. The good news from a Blues perspective was that they were able to grind out a result never the less. Winning ugly might not be a philosophy that sits comfortably with rugby purists, but it’s a quality that all teams with aspirations to be the very best need. So next up, it’s Leicester Lions. Weather permitting we should be in for a great game when come to Priory Park this weekend. What can we expect on Saturday? Here’s what Head Coach, Giles Heagerty had to say.
Although last weekend’s performance against Harrogate might not have been what we’ve come to expect from the Blues, do you think it shows that the team have added an extra string to their bow? After all, last season that was a game that the team probably wouldn’t have won.
“I don’t know whether I’d go as far as saying that, but we have definitely got an extra edge to our game these days. When the weather conditions are as poor as they were last weekend, you just have to accept that the best you can hope to achieve is that you’ll be able to grind out a win. It might not be attractive to watch, but we know that there were probably times in the past where we would’ve lost a game like that. The conditions dictated what we were able to do, and we played the conditions well both defensively and in attack. So I’ve got to be happy with that.”
You said in pre-season that you wanted to give the Blues’ game plan a new dimension. Do you think the team have now managed to add effective plans B and C to their locker?
“I’d like to think we’re getting there, though I personally feel we’re still some way off. I think what we are good at is recognising when to play expansive rugby, and when not to. That for me is positive decision making on the part of the boys. There are still one or two things we still need to add into our games before we can conclusively claim to have effective plans B and C in place, but I’m pleased that we’re certainly moving in that direction.”
Do you think other teams will now try to shut up shop like Harrogate when they face Macclesfield in order to neutralise the Blues attacking threat?
“I’m not sure. I certainly don’t think you can use last weekend’s game as any sort of example. The Harrogate game was unique in that you had two sides who both normally like to play running rugby. Unfortunately we were both neutralised by the conditions. Normally when you review games over the course of the week, there are things you can learn and mistakes you can identify. But when I watched the review of the Harrogate game I gave up, as I thought the process was counter- productive. There’s nothing that could be learnt from it, either technically of tactically, because the conditions were so unique.”
“I don’t think either side would have chosen to play that way, but we were both forced into it by the conditions. Fortunately for us we came out of it better. The one thing I would say about Harrogate is they’ve got an incredible kicking game. They’ve obviously worked very hard on it, and they used it against us very effectively. I’d be surprised if we come up against anything similar again this season.”
What are Leicester Lions main strengths and threats?
“Leicester are travelling up to us buoyed up on the back of a decent win against Sale FC last weekend. By all accounts they’ve got a very strong pack and a dynamic backline. I know they’ve had a couple of injuries to key players and that may have taken some of the edge off their game. However, those players came off the bench last weekend, so we’re expecting them to be involved against us.”
“Leicester Lions are a good side and are very well coached. You don’t get to fifth in this league otherwise. They’re in very good shape and they’ll pose a threat, of that I’ve no doubt. It’s important that people don’t forget that this is National League 2 rugby, so every game will be tough and physical. I don’t expect anything less this weekend. We’ve got to concentrate all our efforts on focusing on our processes and remaining composed. If we can do that, then hopefully we’ll be able to get a result.”