No matter how hard a team may train, sometimes they’ll just have a bad day at the office. That’s exactly what happened to Macclesfield Blues at Loughborough last Saturday. Yes, the Blues managed to score 30 points which on any other day would’ve been a laudable achievement; but they also conceded 76 in the process. So what happens now? Well, in the view of Head Coach, Giles Heagerty, you pick yourselves up, dust yourselves down, move on and prepare for Birmingham Moseley’s visit to Priory Park this weekend. Last week’s defeat is history now: what matters is what happens this Saturday. Here what Giles had to say.
Did the Blues make the mistakes you feared and allow Loughborough Students to dictate the pace of the game and play at speed?
“Yes, they did. Loughborough have got some very talented athletes and a lot of pace in their backline -though they’ve also got it up front too. They utilised that asset very well and were able to isolate us in certain areas of the field and punish us. We didn’t help matters ourselves by missing tackles, and the players know they have to take responsibility for those errors. The problem is if you give good teams like Loughborough opportunities, they will ruthlessly exploit them.”
“I think we also compounded the problems by making basic errors right from the start of the game. We didn’t claim the box kick exit from the kick-off: they did and scored in the first couple of minutes of the game. So we were immediately chasing the game, and that’s not a position you want to find yourselves in. In fairness we came back quite well, and still managed to score 30 points; but our error count cost us dearly.”
How do you go about rebuilding confidence after such a resounding defeat?
“Well, for a start there’ll be some changes in selection. We had a slightly disrupted week prior to last Saturday’s game: we lost 2 players through injury during the week, and 1 player through work commitments. We then had to try and make changes to accommodate these absences. Unfortunately, the RFU messed up the registration details of one of the players we tried to bring in, so we lost another player on the Friday night. I’m not making excuses for the performance or suggesting the players who came in weren’t good enough: I’m just saying the disruptions didn’t help our cause. What we need to do is have a controlled and consistent week in training, and we need to try to avoid losing any more players.”
“Although it pains me to say this; we were just beaten by a better team. They’re in the position they’re in because they are a quality side. Will confidence be hit by that result? Well, maybe a little bit, but when you get beaten by the better team it’s probably easier to move on and get over it than it is when you lose to a team you know you probably should have beaten. So, all we can do is chalk that defeat up to experience and move on.”
Are you worried being at the foot of league at this stage of the season, or are things too close down at the bottom to be too concerned?
“You’ve got to look at the situation realistically and pragmatically. There are 6 teams who could potentially go down, and we’re one of those. If you look at how compressed the bottom 6 or 7 teams are, you know you’re probably only a couple of wins from getting yourself up to mid-table. Naturally you do start looking at your position, and you start to do some number crunching. We have, and we know how many games we realistically need to win in order to stay up, but you can’t obsess about that, because if you do you’ll take your eye off the ball.”
“It might be a cliché, but it’s not over til it’s over. We won’t capitulate. Until someone either says you’re safe or you’re down, my view is you don’t worry about it. We can’t control what other teams do, but we can control what we do, so we’ll just keep on fighting and try to win every game we play.”
What do you need to do to get anything out of the Moseley game?
“Tackle, for starters. We did that very well against Darlington, but came up short against Loughborough. So we’ve got to get the basics right. Moseley are a very good side. They’ve come down from the Championship and they’ve got a big pack, so they’ve got the pedigree and the players to cause problems in National 1. Having said that, they’re not unbeatable. They’ve lost a couple of games on the road, so we have to make sure we’re ready and switched on mentally to face any difficult challenges head on.”
“I think that when you have to play top of the table sides, it can bring an edge and a bit of steel to your game. You know you have to be at your best if you want to get anything from the game. No matter how hard to try to work on mindset, players will look at the league table before a game and that can have an adverse effect on the way they play particularly against those teams in their half of the league. When you play the top sides, however, players know they have to be switched on and fully focused. It’s frustrating, but unfortunately that’s just the way it is.”