Big test yet to come for Loader's men

This Is Wiltshire: Swindon coach Neil Loader Swindon coach Neil Loader

SWINDON may be sitting pretty at the top of South West 1 East but head coach Neil Loader is not about to start getting too excited just yet.

The Greenbridge Road side battered Marlow 41-19 away from home on Saturday, to add to their opening-day demolition of High Wycombe, leaving Loader’s men top of the pile after two games of the new campaign.

However, with tricky tests against former National League heavyweights Newbury and Bracknell to come, Loader knows he can’t let either his players or himself get carried away with the term in its infancy.

While he praised his team for a display of free-flowing rugby at Marlow, the former Rugby Parma chief still picked out parts of his side’s performance that need a little extra work.

“You have to look at it in two ways,” he told the Advertiser. “We’ve gone to Marlow, who finished third last year, and beat them 41-19 in their back yard. That’s a great achievement.

“Each week we’re saying ‘that will be the yardstick that we can judge how much we’ve come on’ and this weekend against Newbury is going to be the same again, especially after seeing how they’ve started.

“But we have to remember we’re only two games into the season. We’ve had two wins but there’s still a long way to go.

“If we’re still in this sort of position, having these results, with two games to go then maybe we can start getting excited.

“We have to make sure we’re in that position come that point in the season.

“We’re obviously really chuffed with the way we’ve started the season and the style of rugby we’ve been trying to play.

“We’re trying to find the right balance with a lot of new faces and positional changes and we’re really happy with what’s going on.

“Some of the support play on Saturday was outstanding, although one thing we do need to work on is our offloading and making sure the runner is definitely there before offloading.”

Swindon flew out of the traps at Marlow, and opened up a 14-0 lead within the first quarter of an hour.

The fleet-footed Tim Berry was the architect of both of the visitors’ two early tries, darting round several defenders to tee up Paul Wakefield, who touched down twice.

With skipper Adam Westall adding the extras with the boot, Swindon had secured the perfect start to ease an early nerves.

However, Marlow were not ones to lay down and die, and the hosts rallied with two scores of their own to reduce the deficit to 14-12 at half time.

With the wind and the slope in their favour after the break, Swindon motored away from their opponents.

Berry extended their lead and, though Marlow quickly countered with a try, Michael Thompson, Westall and Sam Wells completed a convincing victory.

Loader was delighted by the individuals contributions of a number of his players.

He said: “Tim Berry was fantastic for us and you forget his age because of the influence he has on the game, and he will be missed when he goes off to university.

“Gary Williamson has really added to us with his power up front and his lift in the lineout and he’s been a massive positive since he came in.

“Sam Wells has also been big this season and these guys have helped us strengthened where we were already strong.”

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