Although the Blues managed to secure 4 points last weekend, and extend their lead at the top of National League 2 North after Sedgley loss to Caldy, the game was a rather muted affair. The Blues had plenty of possession and constantly tested the resolve of Broadstreet’s scrambled defence, but they were unable to find a way to turn their domination into points, and that was a disappointment for the coaching staff.
Still, that game is now history: what’s important is next weekend’s game at Priory Park against a dangerous Harrogate side. On their day Harrogate are one of the best teams in the league, but Head Coach, Giles Heagerty, is confident the Blues have got what it takes to neutralise any threat that Harrogate might pose. Here’s what he had to say.
Chris Jones was at a loss to explain why the Blues’ performance was so lacklustre last weekend against Broadstreet, what’s your opinion?
“Well, I wasn’t there because of RFU commitments, so I can only go on what I’ve spoken to the captain and the coaches about, and what I’ve seen having looked at the video review of the match. My view is that in spite of the scoreline, we did some very good things on the day.”
“I thought defensively we were excellent: we’ve only conceded 1 try in two games. We probably bombed 5 scores on the day, judging from the number of clean line breaks made and the number of entries into their 22 we had. The problem was we just didn’t convert those chances. We either missed the final pass, or knocked on at the breakdown and that cost us points. In fairness to Broadstreet though, you’d have to say they had a very good scrambled defence.”
“You’d also have to say that I don’t think the referee helped matters. I hate to point the finger, but he was inconsistent. There was clear interference at the breakdown and some questionable angles at the scrum. Broadstreet were undoubtedly dogged and defended desperately, but desperate men do desperate things, and the referee didn’t react or take the appropriate action. That led to the game becoming disjointed.”
“I’ve said to the players, it’s games like that that really count. It’s very easy to get up for games against teams at the top of the league: what matters is getting yourselves in the right mental place when you take on teams at the bottom end of the league. I think perhaps we didn’t do that on the day.”
When the Blues last played Harrogate the weather ruined the game: it’s difficult to judge a side given those circumstances, but what did you make of Harrogate?
“Harrogate are a very good side. I’m not at all surprised at their league position, given some of the results they’ve had. Going up to Harrogate is difficult enough in itself: trying to play them in those conditions was practically impossible. Harrogate are a well-drilled and well-organised team. They’ve got probably the best attacking kicking game that I’ve seen in both National 1 and National 2, and that means they’re going to be a major threat. They’ve got a lot of really good physical players, but their fly half, in particular, is a really tidy player.”
“They’ll be coming to Priory Park with confidence. Like Broadstreet they’re unlikely to come with any great fear or concern I wouldn’t have thought. We’ve just got to make sure we focus on ourselves, not them. We need to tidy a few things up around our breakdown this week. I’m confident because I know that when we manage to maintain possession we are going to score points. We’ve just got to retain possession better and be more patient in our play. Rather than going for a miracle pass, we’re better off biding our time a little more. It’s a matter of more pace and less speed you might say.”
“We’ve got to make sure we neutralise any of the threats they might pose, and I feel like we will be able to do that. Last weekend was difficult fixture because it was a weather weekend, so neither team really expected to play. This weekend, however, we’re back on track with the league, and I think you can expect to see a shift in mentality. Without meaning any disrespect to Broadstreet, the quality of the opponent will also help too, and because of that I think you’ll see a different, more- focused side this weekend.”