Doomed Blues will bat­tle on

Macclesfield Express - - TRAVEL -

MAC­CLES­FIELD rugby union head coach Giles Hearg­erty in­sists they will never stop fight­ing de­spite sit­ting 18 points adrift at the bot­tom of the ta­ble.

The Blues have strug­gled in Na­tional League 1 this sea­son, and have lost their last 12 league games in a row. Their last win came in Novem­ber, when they de­feated Dar­ling­ton Mow­den Park 43-16 at home.

Those two teams meet again this week­end at the Dar­ling­ton Arena, and Hearg­erty be­lieves his side have the abil­ity to turn things around.

“It’s never too late in my opin­ion. Yes, it’s a big ask, but we’ve not thrown in the towel by any stretch of the imag­i­na­tion,” he told the club’s of­fi­cial web­site.

“We’ve got games to play against teams who are sit­ting com­fort­ably in the top half of the league with noth­ing to play for bar pride.

“So you never know what’s go­ing to hap­pen in games like that. All you can do is carry on go­ing un­til you ei­ther stay up or you go down.

“The last time we played Dar­ling­ton was one of the few games this sea­son where we showed our true abil­ity to mix it in Na­tional 1.

“I said at the time that Dar­ling­ton were a wellestab­lished side in the league and that we had to be on our met­tle when we played them. Ob­vi­ously we were.

“One of the chal­lenges we’ve faced this sea­son has been to try and repli­cate per­for­mances like that, but sadly we haven’t been able to do that con­sis­tently. What we have to try to do this week­end is find that spark again.

“It doesn’t re­ally mat­ter what Dar­ling­ton say or do, what we have to con­cen­trate on is us and our per­for­mance.”

Mac­cles­field head into the game on the back of a 45-21 de­feat at Hull Io­ni­ans, but Hearg­erty felt the re­sult didn’t tell the true tale of the match.

“The score­line last week­end might have sug­gested that the game was a very one-sided af­fair, but it was still one of our best per­for­mances of the sea­son,” he said.

“We did a lot of things right, but un­for­tu­nately we made two or three er­rors that cost us. This week­end is all about cut­ting out those er­rors and go­ing out to do what we do best.

“In the in­ter­ests of trans­parency as al­ways, I should say that I was away with the Eng­land Coun­ties at the week­end, so I didn’t see the game live.

“How­ever, I’ve watched the game since and spo­ken to the coach­ing staff, so I’m fully aware of what hap­pened.”

This week­end’s op­po­nents Dar­ling­ton are ninth in the ta­ble, hav­ing won 11, lost 11 and drawn one of their 23 matches so far this sea­son.

MAC­CLES­FIELD ............ 21 HULL IO­NI­ANS .............. 45

AF­TER the con­tro­versy of the last minute call­ing off of this fix­ture in Jan­uary due to a frozen pitch, and the fact the two teams are sep­a­rated by one place in the rel­e­ga­tion zone of Na­tional One, this had all the hall­marks of a grudge match.

Both teams wasted their first at­tack­ing en­try in the open­ing ex­changes and Mac­cles­field had the bet­ter of the score­less open­ing quar­ter, us­ing their pack to re­tain pos­ses­sion and to blud­geon away at the home eight, and they should have made more of sev­eral good chances cre­ated but han­dling er­rors and a re­silient home de­fen­sive ef­fort kept them at bay.

It was Mac­cles­field who went ahead in the 21st minute af­ter fly-half Tom Ea­ton saw a gap and made a break through the Io­ni­ans de­fence on half way, and put the sup­port­ing Matt King un­der the posts for the first score. Tom Mor­ton added the goal to open up a seven point lead.

Io­ni­ans re­sponded with an im­proved for­ward ef­fort to drive the ball into the op­po­si­tion 22. James San­der­son and Mark Wigham did the don­key work to al­low Phil Eg­gle­shaw to barge over from close range, on 25 min­utes to level the scores.

This was fol­lowed swiftly by a fine solo ef­fort from Aquile Smith; ever alert, Smith gath­ered the ball at the base of a poorly guarded ruck, and sprinted through the mid­dle, rounded the cov­er­ing Ryan Parkin­son and dived over in the cor­ner. The kick was ex­pertly judged by Isaac Green, to put the hosts 14 – 7 in front, which was how it re­mained to the break.

The Blues came out fight­ing in the sec­ond half, with Io­ni­ans weath­er­ing an early on­slaught from Mac­cles­field, dur­ing which scrum half Green was sent to the bin af­ter the vis­i­tors mauled 25 me­tres deep into the York­shire sides’ ‘22.

Un­for­tu­nately for Macc points win prizes and the lads failed to pick any up in that dom­i­nant spell. Ul­ti­mately, not tak­ing their chances is what has

Giles Hea­gerty

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