Games between Macclesfield and Chester have been fiery affairs to say the least over the years: I’m sure this game will be no different.

Macclesfield Blues’ rich run of form came to a shuddering halt last weekend after the defeat against Sedgley Tigers at Priory Park. Both the team and the coach were understandably bitterly disappointed by the performance, but graciously conceded that at the end of the day the better team won. It’s now time for a reality check. Setbacks happen to even the best teams: the mark of a good team is how well it responds to adversity.

Despite the loss, Macclesfield Blues have not become a bad team overnight. They just happened to have a bad day. That’s the opinion of Head Coach, Giles Heagerty. The Blues have bounced back from defeat before this season, and he’s confident that the squad has the courage and the fortitude to do the same again, starting next weekend at Chester. Here’s what Giles had to say when he spoke to Macclesfield Rugby this week.

How disappointed were you with last weekend’s performance, and were you at all surprised by Sedgley’s game plan?

“It certainly wasn’t the type of performance I expected, and it was definitely not the performance we needed. We’ve managed to build up great momentum over the last few weeks, but that defeat will definitely set us back. Realistically I know nobody expected us to go through the season unbeaten, but one defeat doesn’t determine the course of a season. Yes we may have lost, but we’ve not become a bad team overnight.”

“We were more than a match for Sedgley in the first half, and played some decent rugby, but as I’ve said on numerous occasions the game is 80 minutes long. We just allowed Sedgley to get momentum during the first 5 or so minutes of the second half, and that was fatal. That left us chasing the game and that’s really isn’t a position you want to find yourself in, particularly when you’re facing quality opposition. After that 5 minute spell where we switched off, they just kicked on, and we weren’t able to respond. All credit to them; their game management was superb.”

“Dean Schofield has definitely had an influence at the Club, though my understanding is he doesn’t usually attend many Saturday games because of his commitments at Leeds. In fairness though Sedgley have got a very good coaching structure in place. Dave Livesey is Dean’s second and he’s a very experienced coach. They’ve also got a few other guys who’ve been there for some time and know their way around. That experience showed in the way they were able to manage the game and run down the clock.”

“Sedgley’s performance didn’t really come as a shock, because we knew they were just one of those sides who you knew, given an opportunity, were going to be very difficult to overcome. We gave them that opportunity early in the second half, and they definitely capitalised on it. The game was challenging enough – being first against second – but we definitely made it too easy for them. Nevertheless for all the criticisms I might level at my team, I’d be the first to acknowledge that the better side won.”

Can you take any comfort from that performance?

“I’m not sure ‘comfort’ is a word I would use. There is something positive to take out of the game however; and that’s that it forces you to reflect on your own performance and look at the game in detail. We now have the chance to look in depth at where we’re up to. Maybe over the last 2 or 3 weeks we’ve slacked off a little bit, and I’d be the first to accept that a lot of the responsibility for that lies at my door. Why has that happened? Well, there are lots of reasons that we’ll analyse in depth over the course of the next few training sessions. When we’ve done that we’ll attempt to sort them out.”

“If I can take ‘comfort’ from anything it’s simply this: when the team sat in the dressing room after the final whistle you could tell from looking at their faces that not only were they disappointed, but they also realised they’d let themselves down. When that realisation dawns, you know you have to do something to address the issue.”

“You know you have to work hard to make sure you don’t feel that same level of disappointment again. We’ve got a number of things to work on. We need to improve, and we need to get our edge back. I’m sure going forward in this week’s training we’ll address those issues.”

What are your thoughts on the Chester game?

“Well, they’ve clearly not had the easiest of starts to the season, and it’s not for me to comment on why that is; but games between Macclesfield and Chester over the years have been fiery affairs to say the least. I’m sure this game will be no different. It’s been billed as a big Cheshire derby, and if that’s what people want to make of it, then so be it; but I don’t set any store by that.”

“Chester have got some tidy players, a decent set piece, and they’re very well organised defensively. If I was in their position I’d probably be licking my lips thinking they’re vulnerable coming off the back of a loss: so let’s get stuck into them. But whether they feel that or not, what we have to concentrate on is our own performance.”

“We can’t afford to worry about others. We have to bounce back from last weekend and try to build momentum once again. How the players respond to the challenge will no doubt determine how the rest of our season will pan out.”

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