RUGBY LEAGUE: St George coach still holds play-off hopes
PLAYER-COACH Carl Baker believes Swindon St George can still reach the play-offs in the West of England Premier League.
The Greenbridge Road side have still to taste victory this term and only have one more match of the campaign remaining.
And despite their latest defeat, a 52-18 reverse at home to second-placed Gloucestershire Warriors, Baker feels that Swindon can take their season into overtime.
“We play Somerset (Vikings) next weekend and if we win that then we can make the play-offs,” the player-coach said.
“Somerset have had a bad year, they only have two points and if we beat them then we can leap-frog them to reach the play-offs as we have a better for and against.”
Swindon’s play-off hopes, however, could be over before they make the journey to Somerset, as the Vikings entertain Bristol Sonics A on Saturday and a win for the hosts would leave the gap to great for St George too close.
But Baker knows if his side are to reach the end of season party they will need to tighten up their defence from the Gloucestershire defeat.
Against the Warriors, St George shipped 10 tries to cancel out a Bruce Vuetanatotoka brace and Baker’s score.
Swindon took the lead against the Warriors when Vuetanatotoka dummied his through to the posts, with Gwyn Jenkins adding the extras.
But Gloucestershire hit back Ben Brinkworth’s excellent offload sent Ollie Cooper in for his first try before sheer strength took him through the defence to score his second.
Kieran Cox then touched down captain Ash Lewis’s well-placed grubber kick to the in-goal before the Warriors’ skipper took the line on himself and scored an excellent solo try.
Just before the interval, Baker stretched over to score for St George, Jenkins converting via a post to give them a platform to get back into the game in the second period.
However, they weren’t given that chance as two tries from Lewis, the first an audacious chip and regather on the last and the second pure power past defenders to the line in the first five minutes of the period, gave the Warriors a 20-point advantage which they extended in a whirlwind of tries.
After Jake Thompson was just unable to regather a Lewis kick to the corner, Cooper completed his hat-trick, ghosting through the defence out wide.
From the next set, Ben Whincup sent Dave Watling away to score and, from the restart, Lewis powered through the defence on an 80-metre run to the line.
St George’s only response was a long-range try of their own, Vuetanatotoka taking a high kick and racing round the defence to the posts from behind his own 10-metre line.
The Warriors had to wait for the final minutes to complete the scoring through Whincup.