Macclesfield Blues start 2017 at the foot of the National League 1 table, but they know that there is still everything to play for. There are 14 games remaining; 14 games in which they can turn the season around. The Blues have shown that they have the ability to trouble any team – even the top teams- but they haven’t been able to do this consistently.
The first team to visit Priory Park in 2017 is Coventry. When the teams last met in September, Coventry ran out with an easy 61-14 victory. However, for patches in the second half of that game the Blues were competitive and caused the home team a number of problems. Head Coach, Giles Heagerty, will be looking for a similar spirited performance this weekend. He knows the team will have to defend as a unit, nail their tackles, and take any opportunity that presents itself if Macclesfield Blues are to get 2017 off to a winning start. Here’s what Giles had to say:
What New Year’s resolutions are looking to set in place for the team in 2017?
“There are a couple of things I’d like to do this year. Firstly, I think the challenge for us is to get better at basic areas of the game. By that I mean our ball retention, our handling in contact and our tackling. These are the biggest areas we’ll be focusing on in the first few weeks of the New Year. That’s borne out of reflection and looking at and analysing some of the data we’ve collected. The advantage with having time off over Christmas is that I’ve been able to go through this analysis with a fine toothcomb.”
“Secondly, it’s particularly important to think carefully about the technical aspects of the game, now the new laws relating to tackling have come into effect. We need to ensure that we get the detail right so we can keep 15 men on the pitch. You only have to look at any of the Premiership games that have gone on over the Christmas period to see the need for attention to detail in terms of leg tackling. It’s a challenge, but it’s a challenge we all have to face up to.”
Coventry are going to present a ‘challenge’ this weekend, but do you think the Blues have the capability of turning things around at Priory Park?
“I know Coventry are a very good side with some fantastic players and a sound coaching set up, but you only have to look at the second half performance we put in on their ground to know that they are not unbeatable. That second half performance clearly showed that if you can front up to a side, no matter who they are; you’re going to make life difficult for them. The reality of the game in September is that we were overawed for the first 30 minutes or so. We barely touched the ball and didn’t trouble them at all. “
“However, what we have shown during the course of this season is that whenever we are in possession of the ball against any side, even Hartpury, we are a threat. That’s the fact we need to remember this weekend. When we keep hold of the ball we can be dangerous. We have to get our defence right and we have to make the tackles stick. As I’ve mentioned umpteen times, if you get the top two inches right you’re more likely to win games.”
Will the next 4 or 5 games be the defining games in Macclesfield Blues’ National 1 season?
“As far as I’m concerned all of the next 14 remaining games are important. Yes, the next few games are also important given the relative position of opponents like Blaydon, Hull and Cambridge, but the fact is they’ll be just as desperate as we are. I therefore think every game between now and the end of April is just as important. We have to approach every game with the right sort of winning mentality. We have to play to win. Getting something from the game is simply not enough given the position we find ourselves in. We have to go into games with the sole intention of winning.”