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No knee-jerk reaction from Blues boss McAvoy despite bruising 40-0 defeat to Witney

Newbury Blues head coach James McAvoy said he wants to see smiles back on faces following his side's bruising 40-0 defeat at the hands of Witney.

Since beating high flying London Irish Wild Geese, Blues have suffered four successive defeats, culminating in their disappointing drubbing in Oxfordshire.

And the Blues boss admitted it was a difficult weekend and felt that circumstances conspired against his side even prior to kick-off, with the threat of a potential postponement leaving his charges a little undercooked after the pitch passed an inspection.

Newbury Blues head coach James McAvoy insists there will be no wholesale changes to his approach
Newbury Blues head coach James McAvoy insists there will be no wholesale changes to his approach

"Absolutely, it was disappointing. It was one of the tougher ones to take," he said.

"Previously, we've attributed the losses to playing against some of the better teams. In some way, there's something that can help you psychologically when you're losing – but at least you're competing – against sides that you know are going to be up there.

"To have a result against a side like Witney, who are in a similar position in the league to us and who we've previously competed well against or beaten, was a bit of a shock to be honest.

"I don't think we were quite up for the game. With it being a bit of a late pitch inspection, 10 o'clock on a Saturday morning, I think a few of the boys mentally weren't in the right headspace. That's something we need to look at, and that some of the leaders in the group need to look at.

"We knew there was a chance Witney could've called the game off if they felt they maybe didn't have the right squad, so we knew they wanted it on for a reason. They obviously fancied themselves.

"We tried to use that as motivation but it obviously didn't work. It was painful after the game, we didn't have to say much. We sat down, listened to some player feedback and put down an action plan going into this week."

Blues will be looking to stop the rot this Saturday with the visit of ninth placed Wimborne, who are just one place and three points below Newbury. And McAvoy, who has labelled the game a "must-win", is hoping he can bring the feel-good factor back to Monks Lane.

He said: "We consider it to be a must-win.

"When you look at the scoreline, it can look like defence is the issue. Actually, this week we're just going to focus on some clarity in attack and, for us as a team, we want to have literal smiles on faces and play with some more freedom.

"It's an important game, but we can't be too worried about the outcome. When we're there just to play is when we're at our best. We clearly haven't been in the right mindset lately.

"This week is about pressure off. We know we can't lose again, but our job is to make sure we enjoy it. There were no smiles on faces on Saturday.

"This is amateur sport. The boys give a lot of time, effort, blood, sweat and tears and so to see them not smiling or enjoying themselves is something I take very seriously.

"We'll have music out on the pitch in training, we'll get the endorphins flowing and we'll focus on improving a few areas we need to look at."

One thing McAvoy can guarantee is that there'll be no knee-jerk reaction from the Blues camp this week, with the former London Irish backs coach confident his side aren't far away from a return to form.

"There are things we need to do. We can refine, review and adapt – but we won't change," he said.

"The players will want some sort of adjustment. We can't act like everything's all good but there won't be wholesale changes.

"I'm here for the process, not just to rip up things when it starts to go wrong. I do believe we're on the right path."

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