SATURDAY’S first trip up north to Fylde didn’t quite go as planned for Bishop’s Stortford, going down 29-22 in the floodlit encounter.
First XV flanker Dan Elsom sat down with the club’s Director of Rugby, Andy Long, to discuss what went wrong and how the side can flip their form.
DE: Saturday was a disappointing way to kick off the first ever encounter with Fylde. What didn’t go to plan against the Lancashire side?
AL: We gave ourselves a mountain to climb, but we didn’t deserve to win ultimately. They were hungrier than us and we just made too many basic errors, which at this level you just can’t do against anyone, especially not against a side that are fighting for their lives in a home fixture.
We didn’t respect the ball, and we had very little desire to look after it when we had it. It was a very disappointing day really. We got ourselves into the position to draw or potentially win the game, but when we really needed to we couldn’t keep the ball.
DE: Stortford lost two forwards to the sin bin within the first 40 minutes, while Fylde lost one. Do you think the referee was quite quick to send players off?
AL: I did think the ref was quite quick to go to his pocket. I thought maybe they were a bit unlucky, and they weren’t really the right call considering the impact the action had on the game. Unfortunately, the ref was quite inconsistent in a number of areas, but at the end of the day, we just didn’t do enough to win the game. There were chances that we didn’t take, and at this level our decision-making under pressure needs to be better.
The two yellow cards did cost us a bit. Unfortunately they do happen, and while our discipline has been pretty good all season, on Saturday it cost us two tries while we had guys off the field.
DE: After a bit of a shock loss, does anything change in the training week leading up to the next match?
AL: It’s a bit of a wake up call, that’s for sure. But this week while we can’t overreact, we do have to assess ourselves as individuals and fix where we went wrong. Most importantly, we need to make sure that by the time we get to Saturday, we aren’t carrying any of the baggage from last week, and that we have a bit of a point to prove. It’s all attitudinal for us.
There are certain themes to our game that aren’t quite working, so we need to work out why that is. It may be that we need to do those skills under a bit more pressure at training, which means we need to increase the physicality a bit. The one thing that will always be the case is that we have another 80 minutes on Saturday to prepare for and be conscious of that.
We have to get out all the baggage from last Saturday, but we also need to have an eye forward for the detail of the next challenge. If we carry on focusing too much on looking back, we forget to look forward.
DE: Loughborough Students come to Silver Leys on Saturday looking to make it four in a row leading up to Christmas. How do you think they have managed to turn their results around of late?
AL: Loughborough are in a rich vein of form at the moment, which means they are probably going to come to us as favourites. They have the Leicester (Tigers) partnership, and maybe the last few weeks with those academy guys on other duties, they may have been able to string a more consistent team together.
They play on an artificial pitch at home, so they play with a lot of width and pace, and you can expect that from a student side. Because they are a student-based team, they can gym a lot and train together all the time, so you’d expect their detail to be good.
Clearly they are playing with a bit of confidence at the moment, and confidence goes a long way.
We have got to make sure we bring a performance on Saturday that is full of attitude, work rate and physicality. Those characteristics are the bedrock of our game and everything else is built on that. If you don’t have those three things, then you can’t build the rest of your game.
DE: Over the Esher weekend you completed the Mount Kilimanjaro climb. Tell us a bit about that experience.
AL: It was amazing; nothing like I thought it would be. It was a bit of an impulsive decision to do it, and I went in a bit blind. But it was an amazing challenge. You start in the rainforest and end up in an artic desert before you reach the summit. To go from 1000m to 6000m is amazing. I’ve got some great memories and I’d recommend it to anyone.
DE: How did you find the climb physically?
AL: I got a little bit of altitude sickness on day three and had to take a bit of medication, but it was just a mild headache really. The guides are brilliant and they really look after you. You take it quite slow, so there wasn’t really too much pressure on you during the climb itself. Our summit day was about 10 hours of trekking, and 4500 feet of climb and descent so it was a very challenging day but totally worth it when you get to the summit.
See highlights of the win over Loughborough HERE
Updated 19:53 - 19 Dec 2017 by Perry Oliver