Macclesfield Blues were looking to secure their first win at Priory Park in 2017, but found that they couldn’t live with the power and pace of a strong and relentless Old Albanian side. The Blues looked mentally worn out in the opinion of head Coach, Giles Heagerty: the direct result, he believes, of putting in 3 great mentally-exhausting performances but getting very little reward for the effort.
The Blues travel next to Hull to play Ionians. The game’s cancellation in January caused a great deal of rancour, but as far as Giles is concerned that matter has now been put to bed and forgotten. If Hull still want to dwell on the matter, then that’s their problem as far as he’s concerned. What’s important is the result. If the Blues get the win, then they’re back in the hunt: if they fail to win, then they’re in big trouble. Here’s what Giles had to say.
What was the biggest disappointment about the team’s performance against Old Albanian – the wasted opportunities or the Blues’ defensive frailties?
“I think what we saw on Saturday was the effects of the prolonged efforts we’ve had to put in in the last 3 games. I have to say we just looked mentally exhausted. It’s not the first time we’ve seen it this season, and I dare say it won’t be the last. When you string together 3 good performances but don’t get the results your efforts deserve, it’s not surprising if you come unstuck in the next game. I think that shows just how much mental effort the players have to put in to compete at this level.”
“Although I was disappointed by the eventual result, we none the less showed that we are a match for Old Albanian. Unfortunately, our errors both as a unit and individually cost us; A dropped ball here and a missed tackle there don’t generally get punished in National 2: but make those mistakes in National 1 and you pay the price.”
Did heads drop when Lewis Barker’s penalty kick hit the post?
“No, I don’t think they did. There were a couple of occasions in the first half when we should’ve taken the points but we didn’t and opted to kick for the corner instead. We talked at half time about the importance of making sure we took any points on offer when we got into the ‘kicking V.’ I think the team made the right call to kick for the posts rather than go to the corner, because at that stage if we’d kicked the points the gap would’ve been pegged back to 9 points with 20 minutes or so to go.”
“We weren’t lucky with the kick, but I don’t think heads dropped as a result of that. We kept scoring after that with one brilliantly executed first-phase try and we kept pushing for the losing bonus point right up til the final whistle. So no, heads didn’t drop.”
Are you expecting any repercussions after the furore over last month’s cancelled game?
“I should hope not. As far as we’re concerned that matter was put to bed as soon as we got back on the bus. If Hull want to keep the issue rumbling on, it’s entirely up to them. If they try to use that as motivation, then it’s their call. I think that would be fairly stupid and I hope it won’t happen. People need to grow up.”
Is the Hull game the must-win game, or just one in a series of must-win games between now and the end of the season?
“I think the game will probably the most important game of the season to date. If we get a win on Saturday, then we’re back in the hunt. I don’t want to overplay its importance and significance as all the remaining games are important, but we need to get something out of this one.”
Are Hull’s major strengths still strong forward play and a good kicking game, or has their style evolved?
“I’m not expecting anything different from Hull this weekend. As I say every week, they can do what they want, what we have to worry about is ourselves. I think this week more than any other week we have to make sure we are mentally at the races. As a group and collective we’ve been pretty good at that: as individuals we have sometimes let ourselves down. So collectively and individually this weekend we have to be sharp and focused and we need to get things right when it matters.”