Every team has a defining moment in a season when everything either comes together or falls apart. Last week’s comprehensive defeat at Coventry was not that moment in the opinion of Head Coach, Giles Heagerty. Yes, the defeat was a painful and chastening experience, but Giles is realistic and knows that it probably won’t be the only loss that Macclesfield Blues suffer this season. Rugby in National 1 is tough; the Blues’ challenge is to rise to the challenge and meet it head on, starting at Priory Park this weekend when they welcome Hull Ionians. Despite the heavy defeat last weekend, Giles is still confident that the Blues can bounce back.
Were you disappointed with the Coventry result?
“I was pretty disappointed with the performance and the result, as was the team. We never really got started, and if I’m being honest I think some people got overawed by the occasion. It’s understandable in some ways for those players who’ve never played in a stadium before. Coventry have got some big boys too, and I think a couple of players lost their focus because of this. Coventry are also one of those sides where, once they’re on the front foot, they tend to stay on the front foot for sustained periods of the game. They showed their quality early on, scoring four tries in the first 12 minutes, and putting us under the cosh for the first 25. They’re a well-drilled and well-organised side, and though we may have been expecting that, we just didn’t turn up for the first 25 minutes.
Did you take any consolation from the fact that the Blues put in a more spirited performance in the second half?
“Yes – a little I suppose, but my overriding feeling is that this was a missed opportunity for us to lay down a marker. We banged on all week before the game about how this was our opportunity to show the rest of the league where we were up to. We were even confident we could go out there and get something out of the game. Even Coventry afterwards said that coming into the game they were worried and knew they had to produce a big performance. Still, in a sense everything clicked for Coventry on the day, and everything that could go wrong for us did go wrong. So we now have to draw a line under it and move on.”
How do you motivate the team after such a comprehensive loss, and gee them up for next weekend’s visit of Hull to Priory Park?
“We just turn the page and get on with doing what we do best. Coventry was last week, so it’s history. We don’t need to think about them again until January. Hull is this week and that’s our priority now. As I’ve said before each team is unique. Each team poses a different set of challenges. We’ll be concentrating solely on Hull and not suffering any hangovers about last weekend.”
What sort of different challenges will Hull Ionians present?
“Well, they are probably a slightly more forward-orientated side than Coventry, and that’s going to mean we’re going to have to change the way we do certain things. They’ve also got a very good kicking game and a very talented fly half who played against us last season for Harrogate in National 2. We know that they’ll use that strength and we have to prepare for that accordingly.”
Are you confident that the team can bounce back this weekend at Priory Park?
“I am; very much so. We spoke after the game last weekend and I told the players it’s all about response now. It’s very easy to get hung up on the fact that a team scored 61 points against us, but it’s just one game. If people think one game defines a season, then that’s ludicrous. Yes, we have to learn the lessons from it – and we will; our job is to react positively and continue to get better.”
“We also have to accept that it probably won’t be the only game we lose this season; it would be great if it was, but that’s unlikely. The standard in National 1 is very high, so we just have to be realistic. Last week we never really got going. This weekend I’m looking for a strong start and getting ourselves in the game early on. After that, it’s up to us to deliver. Knowing the players as I do, I’m confident I’ll get that response this weekend.”