Macclesfield Blues travelled over the Pennines last weekend to face Huddersfield. In spite of the weather and a determined and spirited performance by the home side, Macclesfield Blues were able to extend their winning run with a bonus point win. That now makes it 11 straight victories. The next visitors to Priory Park are Sedgley Park. Currently lying in second place in National League 2, Sedgley Tigers are a team that need no introductions. Local derbies between the two teams are always keenly contested, and Macclesfield Blues know they will have to be at their very best if they want to get a result this weekend. What are the team expecting from Sedgley? Well, the person best placed to answer that is Head Coach, Giles Heagerty. Here’s what he had to say.
Given the weather conditions and the tenacity of Huddersfield’s performance; how pleased where you with the win at the weekend?
“Oh, very pleased indeed. We have to take a lot of positives out of the performance. We showed grit and determination, and we more than matched Huddersfield’s tenacity. But the good thing is we also tried to play some rugby despite the conditions, and we stepped up a gear when it was necessary.”
“I think it’s probably fair to say that in the first half we maybe didn’t give Huddersfield as much respect as we should’ve done. As a result of that they deservedly went in at half time 17 points to 11 up. What I found really impressive was the response the players gave in the second half. The first 7 minutes after the break saw some of the best rugby we’ve played all year. In spite of the heavy rain and the gales, the speed we played at was really impressive.”
So was the second half improvement purely down to the on-field decisions taken by the players, or did you give them what for at half time?
“Oh the players were definitely told in no uncertain terms were they had gone wrong in the first 40 minutes. The words were clear and frank, and all the improvements I suggested for the second half were carried out exactly. What I told them was to carry on playing as they were, but to improve their urgency. As soon as we did that the difference was obvious.”
“All credit must go to Huddersfield though. They never threw in the towel and pressed us all the way until the last 20 minutes. Thereafter you could tell we were dominant, and I’m just pleased the players pushed on and got the job done.”
Will you have to show the same sense of urgency when Sedgley Tigers come to Priory Park this weekend?
“Well I’m not quite sure, but it would be nice. We try to play at tempo whenever we can because it suits our game. So yes we’ll be looking for a degree of urgency for sure, but we also want to focus on our own performance and try to make improvements with every game.”
Are Sedgley Park potentially the toughest opponents you’ll face in National League 2 North?
“I think I’ll be in a better position to answer that after the game! Obviously the team is currently second in the league, and they’re second in the league for a reason. Let’s be clear, they were first in the league for a while, and they are obviously a very good side. What’s important is that we respect them, respect the work they’ve done and the way they play the game, and then concentrate on ourselves and what we need to do. All I want from the players is that they go out and perform at the highest level.”
What do you consider to be Sedgley Tigers’ greatest threat?
“I’m not sure I want to answer that at this time. All I would say is that they’ve got a good defence and they score a lot of tries. Their stats will tell you that. They’re also well-organised and don’t concede many points, as you’d expect from a team near the top of the table. We’re going to have to be patient, and make sure that when our opportunities come we take them.”