Acid test for St George
5:30am Saturday 31st May 2014 in By Tom Bassam, Chief sports writer
SWINDON St George will be using their tough test away at Cheltenham Old Patesians to measure their early season progression.
Old Patesians are the reigning West of England Premier League champions and only lost once last season.
One of those victories was a 48-10 win over St George but that team and the one that Cheltenham will line up against today are vastly different propositions.
That fixture, exactly one year ago, was against a team selecting from bare bones and not the much reinforced St George of 2014. Captain George Cowley’s new look Swindon team, led for the majority of their season opener against the last team to beat Old Patesians, Somerset Vikings, before going down in the second half.
Cowley understands his side have a big challenge ahead of them but is intrigued to see how his side measure up against one of the league’s big boys.
“It’s going to be a tough ask, it will be a good platform for St George to be able to gather an understanding of where the team is mentally and physically,” Cowley told the Advertiser.
“It will give a benchmark to work against from a capability perspective, a fitness perspective and a team ethic perspective, we’re not just trying to build on the pitch, but in all aspects as a club.
“We’re looking at a strong, fast, attacking game.
“We’re anticipating them being very strong around the ruck area, and like any Gloucester side they never turn up 50 per cent, we know they’ll be up for it.”
St George will be without Callum Watkins who has a hamstring tweak, player-coach Carl Baker is on holiday and Reece Kinnett who is unavailable due to work commitments.
Matt Young, who was the team’s vice captain, has decided to step down because of availability problems.
The role has been taken on by a trio players Sam Argent, Danny Shorter and Gwyn Jenkins.