2016 didn’t start as Macclesfield Blues would’ve liked. Still, at least the Blues came away from Caldy with 2 points, whilst other top teams stumbled. Despite the defeat, Head Coach, Giles Heagerty, believes the Blues can take something positive from the game, and that’s simply this: every other team will be gunning for Macclesfield and trying to knock them off their perch, so if the Blues are to duplicate early season success in 2016, they’ll have to be even better prepared and show courage, fortitude and determination. The team are well aware that the challenges ahead will be tough, but Giles still feels his side have the strength of character and the competitive edge to push for the title in May.
Perhaps that wasn’t the sort of start you would’ve liked for the New Year, but are you pleased that at least you came away from Caldy with 2 points?
“We did manage to get the points, and given that other teams around us also had a bad start we can’t be too hard on ourselves. Naturally we were frustrated with our performance on Saturday, but now the emotions have cleared, we are a little bit calmer about it all. We’ll simply have to put it down to a bad day at the office and move on.”
The Blues were well in the game in the last quarter, but did you actually foresee Caldy mounting such a strong comeback?
“What? You mean did I see us losing the game? Well, yes I did – though that was for one reason only, and that’s that the team, and I include the management team in that, really didn’t have our best day. We were late arriving at the ground, we were rushed and our warm up wasn’t great. What was the reason for that? Well, maybe we pushed the players a little bit too hard in the week before the game. Whatever the reason, we were never really in the game properly.”
“Caldy played a simple game plan, and that was to blitz off the line to try and stop our big runners getting ball. Then when the collisions occurred they were very successful at taking ball away from us. That allowed them to force penalties at breakdowns, and that’s exactly what they did in the last 10 minutes or so. Because of that we were never really in a position to get any shape.”
What gave Caldy the edge on Saturday?
“With a side like Caldy, you know that if you give penalties away they’ll make you pay the price. They’ve got Jack Lavin who’s got an absolute siege-cannon of a boat. You just know if you give him the opportunity, he’ll pin you back 50 or 60 metres. They’ve also got Gavin Roberts who’s another great goal kicker. So we simply played into their hands when we were penalised.”
“We have a tempo that we like to play at, and both Caldy and the referee didn’t allow us to do that. On 3 or 4 occasions we went for quick taps when we were awarded penalties, and the referee pulled us back taking away any advantage we might have had. That for me was a bit too officious. Still, that’s the way it sometimes goes. We should have been better to react to the circumstances and tried harder to get a grip on things.”
Having seen Caldy’s game plan work successfully against the Blues on Saturday, do you think Preston and some of the other teams will try to employ similar tactics against you?
“Well, they can probably try, but I’d be surprised if any other team could do it as effectively as Caldy. It all depends on the opposition’s state of mind. Do you want to play in a style that mirrors someone else’s, or are you going to stick to what you know you’re good at? The decision at the end of day is up to the opposition.”
“Preston are playing very well at the moment, and probably don’t feel the need to play in such an attritional manner. They took Sedgley’s scalp just before Christmas. Watching the preview we now know how they did that. If they employ similar tactics against us, we have to be sure that we have the right strategies in place to deal with them.”
The previous game at Priory Park resulted in a relatively comfortable win, but are you expecting a tougher day at the office up in Preston at the weekend?
“You would certainly imagine so. They’ve got a big old pitch up there, and it drains well. That should suit both our styles. They’ve had some good results. Our intelligence would suggest that they now feel things are starting to click for them, and judging from some of the results they’ve had, they are probably right there. We know there are no easy games in this league. Our task is to make sure we prepare well, and are in the best possible position to come away with something on Saturday afternoon. If we do everything 10 per cent better this weekend, particularly our carrying, we’re reasonably confident we can get something out of the game.”