Training this week will be focused on turning practice speed into game speed.

Macclesfield Blues were looking to bounce back from the defeat at Coventry when they took on Hull Ionians at Priory Park last weekend. Unfortunately Hull hadn’t read the script. With 10 minutes to go the Blues were just 2 scores away from taking 3 points for the draw, but by the time the whistle finally blew the Blues couldn’t even manage to secure a losing bonus point.

Naturally Head Coach, Giles Heagerty, was very disappointed with the display. He felt that the performance was patchy and that the team failed to capitalise on the many opportunities they created. He also knows that should the Blues do the same thing again this weekend at Blaydon, they will come away disappointed. Will the Blues approach that game differently, or will they stick with the game plan that’s served them well enough until now? Here’s what Giles had to say.

Were you surprised by Hull’s performance last Saturday?

“I suppose I have to say that no, I wasn’t. I don’t think Hull played particularly well, but they took the opportunities they were given, and unfortunately we gave them far too many. I guess what the game demonstrated once again is that if you make mistakes in National 1 or give away opportunities, then you will get punished. It’s a different kettle of fish than National 2 where you can make errors and still manage to redeem the situation.”

What about the Blues then? Did anything surprise you there?

“Yes, but surprise isn’t probably the right word; disappoint would probably be better. There were a number of individuals who let themselves down on the day, and they know it. By the same token there were also a number of individuals who continued to impress, and one or two who stepped up. Unfortunately there weren’t enough of the latter, and as a result we made some bad errors. Our ball security was poor, and some of our decision-making was questionable. That combined with the efficiency of Hull and some questionable decision making by the man in the middle culminated in the defeat.”

How frustrated were you to give away a final minute penalty and throw away the chance of gaining a losing bonus point?

“The rules relating to ruck offences are clear and the players know that the referee will pick those up, so you can’t complain when he blows for an offence.  What’s more frustrating for me is that it should never have got to that. We should’ve been home and hosed given the number of line breaks we made throughout the game and the number of opportunities we created but failed to take. What we showed throughout the game was a level of naivety which we need to address urgently. With 10 minutes to go we were only 2 scores away from levelling the game and gaining 3 points, but instead we just continued to put ourselves under unnecessary pressure and that ultimately cost us.”

Are you going to play a different game at Blaydon, or will they you stick with what’s served you reasonably well so far?

“It’s a good question actually and it’s one I’ve been asking myself a lot since I left the Club on Saturday. There’ll certainly be a couple of things we’ll do differently, but what we’ll really need is for the full collective to be focused and ready to do the job at hand. We need to play at the same speed we try and practice at. So training this week will be focused on turning practice speed into game speed. If we can do that and go into the game with the players knowing exactly what their jobs are then hopefully we’ll be on the right end of the result this weekend.”

Where will Blaydon’s major threats come from?

“Mickey Ward’s been the Head Coach at Blaydon for some time and he’s got them well-drilled. They’ve always had a strong driving maul and strong scrummage, so I expect we’ll see plenty of that. Their fly half is good at kicking off the tee, and is effective getting his pack into attacking areas of the field, so we’ve got to ready for that. Blaydon have had a tough time over the last couple of weeks but they’re at home. We’ve got to make sure we recognise their strengths and do something about it. We knew what threats Hull posed, but failed to deal with them. Next weekend we can’t afford to make the same mistake.”

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