COACH Neil Loader believes his side’s first defeat of the season could prove to be the wake-up call his players need to push for promotion from South West 1 East.
The Greenbridge Road side had won their first three games of the season and led the league before Saturday’s visit to Gloucestershire to face Old Centralians, but they returned having been beaten 53-20 and slipped to third in the table.
The home side raced into a 35-8 lead at half-time which Swindon couldn’t pull back despite improving in the second half, and Loader hopes the defeat will remind his side of the size of the task they face this season.
“The lads were saying at half-time that it was a good wake-up call for them, and I think they might be right,” he said.
“We have been winning games but not really playing at our best, and that couldn’t go on for ever.
“This is a really competitive league and every game is hard, and we need to realise that if we are going to be up there at the end of the season.”
Loader admitted his side struggled to cope with the physicality of their opponents on Saturday, and wants his players to take more initiative in the contact area.
“They came out the blocks really hard, and they were very physical but could also play some rugby too, which is the way that we like to play.
“To be fair we struggled to cope with all of that for the first 30 or 35 minutes, and we found ourselves 35 points down before Sam Wells kicked a penalty and then scored a try.
“In the second half we played with a slight slope and a bit of a breeze and we managed to score 12 points, and we made a much better fist of it during the second half which was pleasing.
“But they were still very aggressive and physical in the contact area both with and without the ball, and we needed to get on top of them a lot more than we did.”
But despite going down to their first defeat of the season, Loader was still able to take some positives from the game.
“We missed a couple of opportunities of our own, and we said at half-time that we wanted to pull ourselves together and go out there and get the bonus point for four tries, but we weren’t quite able to do that,” he said.
“We came close to getting the bonus, and I think we probably had the better of our opponents in the final stages of the game, so there are positives to take for sure.”
Loader was also pleased with the way young fly-half Wells performed, as he took the place of the absent Adam Westall for the first time.
“Sam played well at 10 for us, and he is a plus point for sure,” he said.
“Adam is always a big player for us, but Sam showed just how good an understudy he was by performing so well on the first time he replaced him.
“He did a good job, and so did Sam Williams who came in at centre, so there are all sorts of positives we can take.”