The Blues travelled over to the Woodlands last weekend, hoping to do the double over local rivals Fylde. Unfortunately, Macclesfield Blues failed to rise to challenge. Even though the Blues were able to mount a strong second half recovery, they failed to come away with even a losing bonus point. Head Coach, Giles Heagerty, was disappointed and frustrated by the performance, Ideally Giles would’ve liked to start the second half of the season with a win and 4 or 5 points, but it was not to be. The focus instead now shifts to Prior Park and the upcoming visit of Coventry in the New Year.
However, before that there’s time for reflection, and a chance to look back at the first part of the season. What has the Coach learned about the team during the first 16 games of the season, and what sort of difficulties and challenges have the Blues had to face over the last few months? Here’s what Giles had to say.
Were you disappointed that the Blues didn’t even come away with a losing bonus point?
“I think saying disappointed is putting it mildly. We went into the game well-prepared. We had a game plan and we worked on elements of that game plan all week and then we selected a team to go out and execute that game plan. Then for some inexplicable reason we didn’t do what we’d agreed. In fact, for the first 25 minutes we didn’t do anything that we set out to do. We finally got ourselves into some promising positions in the latter stages of the half, but then coughed the ball up because we got a little bit frustrated and too impatient.”
“We addressed those issues at half time and came out and played the perfect game and scored 2 tries. I was pleased with that obviously, but I was also incredibly frustrated. It we’d played like that in the first half we would’ve come away with all the points. So yes I was disappointed, but my overwhelming feeling was one of frustration.”
What have you learned about the team in the first half of the season and what have you learned about the difficulties that the Blues have faced in National 1?
“What has become abundantly clear over the course of the last few months is that the gulf between National 2 and National 1 is a huge one. We knew it was big having played there before, but I have to say in our absence the gulf has got bigger. By that I mean not only in terms of financial clout and the gap between the haves and the have-nots, but also in terms of quality. Some of the teams and the players you come up against are simply incredible, and that presents huge challenges to the teams who can’t attract players of a similar pedigree and quality.”
“Having said that we have actually put together a very good squad. If you look at our back row and the competition we have for places there, then it’s unreal. It doesn’t seem to matter which back row combination we put on the field: they always play well. But the difficulty we face, and the thing we still need to continue to improve on is the top 2 inches. We need to work not just on our physical game but also our mentality. We have to improve the way we respond in games when things start to go against us. We also have to work on our consistency.”
So why do you think Macclesfield Blues have come up short so often during the first half of this National 1 campaign?
“It’s not been player quality that has cost us matches: it’s been the errors we make when we’re under pressure. The stats bear that out: 46 per cent of the tries that have been scored against us have come off the back of handling errors. That’s simply not good enough. At this level, success or failure is down to very fine margins. Ok we’ve played some games where we’ve lost comprehensively, but in most other games the scorelines have been close.”
“The difference in those games has mainly been attributable to the mistakes we’ve made, and sadly in this league, when you make unnecessary mistakes there are a lot of talented individuals who will punish you. We did exactly that to teams like that in National 2 last year, and this season it’s happening to us. That has to stop if we’re to keep our place in National 1.”