Macclesfield Blues’ 2017 National 1 campaign got off to a stuttering start last weekend against Coventry. The Blues started brightly enough and got an early score for their efforts, but they could not maintain the momentum. Despite a spirited second half fight back, the Blues eventually lost the game 37 -14. Head Coach, Giles Heagerty, was left frustrated at the end of the game. He knew that the team left at least a couple of scores out on the pitch. If there was a problem, it was, he thought, that the team were trying too hard and forcing the play. Had they been able to play a simpler game, he thought the score could well have been different. Still, that’s history now: what matters is the next game against Hull. Here’s what Giles had to say ahead of this weekend’s game.
Even though the Blues lost the Coventry game, were you none the less happy with the level of performance?
“Although we started off well, I think the whole group was left collectively frustrated at the end of the game. We came out of the traps quickly, scored a well-worked try and defended a couple of sets. We looked like we were in pretty good order. Then we made a couple of errors and gave two penalties away, and Coventry were able to take advantage of those lapses and score a try. Although I was disappointed to have done that I still thought we were still well in the game.”
“Then we just made a series of errors, like a kick that doesn’t go 10 from the restart or giving away a needless penalty, and we just started handing possession over far too easily. When those things happened I just got the sense that we were just trying to do too much and force the play. I understand why the players were doing this; but when you try too hard you’re liable to make mistakes. I think had we been able to keep things simple, we might’ve fared much better. Would that have made a difference to the result? Impossible to say really, but I think we certainly would’ve been good enough for a couple of extra scores.”
What made the difference when the Blues last played Hull in September? What did Hull Ionians do better than Macclesfield?
“The whole game was very strange indeed and felt flat. There wasn’t much of an atmosphere at the game and it felt to me like both sides were feeling each other out. In terms of the difference on the day, I simply think that Hull managed to find an extra little bit of enthusiasm when it mattered. We scored early and threatened to score more, but squandered the chances. I think those mistakes gave Hull a bit of a sniff. When they got their chances: they took them. So I guess you could say they were more clinical.”
What do the Blues have to do differently this weekend?
“I think what we have to do is develop a short term memory for a start. So forget what happened last weekend against Coventry, and start afresh against Hull. We’ve got a job to do, and we know that if we can stay focused we have the ability to do that job well. When we get opportunities we need to be clinical, and we simply can’t afford to spurn any chances we get.”
When we spoke about Hull before the last game you said their main strengths came from strong forward play and a good kicking game: do you still think this is where their major threat will come from?
“I can’t really answer that, as I still haven’t watched the preview yet. That’s tonight’s job. So I think it would be remiss of me to make a comment on where they’re up to at the moment.”
Are you confident that if you can eradicate the errors and improve in certain areas, the Blues can get a result this weekend?
“Yes. We may have lost last weekend, but we did some good stuff. Our defence stood up very well against a big, well-organised side, and that should give us confidence going into the game. Also our attack is very threatening when we manage to hold on to the ball. What cost us last weekend wasn’t missed tackles or wasted attacking opportunities: it was trying too hard. If we can play a simpler game and not try to think two or three phases ahead in open play, I think we should be OK. If we can sharpen up the detail this weekend, relax a bit and enjoy our game we’ve shown that we can do well. Hopefully that’s what we’ll do on Saturday.”