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Swindon coach Neil Loader

Swindon coach Neil Loader

First published in Sport by

SWINDON head coach Neil Loader wants his team to become more adaptable in difficult conditions, after seeing the Greenbridge Road side fight to a 22-3 victory over Cheltenham on Saturday.

Two tries from Jordan Sheppard and one from Nick Warren, alongside seven points from fly-half Adam Westall, helped Loader’s men to a comfortable win in the wet weather at the weekend, but the Swindon boss said his players struggled to limit their naturally expansive style.

While he understood why his squad found it hard to keep their play tight and neat as the rain lashed down throughout all 80 minutes of the contest, Loader stressed that the events of the afternoon showed him where his side must improve as they look to challenge towards the top of South West 1 East.

He said: “We talked about it and still tried to play with our philosophy even if we felt we needed to tighten up a little bit.

“We did okay, we made a few too many mistakes and didn’t start as aware of the conditions as we ought to have done.

“When we ask the boys to play this sort of rugby you have to accept that that’s the way it’s going to be. We talked at the end about how we should be able to adapt our game to the conditions.

“When it’s like it was on Saturday then we can’t always play our pretty, random rugby.

“The game was in doubt right up until about an hour before kick-off and fortunately we managed to get it on.”

Loader felt that Cheltenham were spared the full wrath of Swindon’s potent attack by the elements, as free-flowing rugby was a no-go with the ball sliding all over the place on the saturated Greenbridge Road surface.

It took an unusual outlet to drive the hosts in front, as Nick Warren was bundled over to give Swindon the lead, while Westall added a penalty to the conversion to give the home side a 10-3 lead at half-time.

Sheppard streaked home for two touchdowns after the break to secure the 19-point margin of victory, which Loader is convinced would have been much wider on a dry autumn’s day.

“We dominated them quite well up front and with the possession we had and the dominance we had up front, on a drier day that could have been a fair few more,” he said.

“It wasn’t a pretty afternoon.

“Weather can be a really good leveller, it can really bring you down to the other team’s level. I think if we’d met someone like Swanage & Wareham, who play a really tight game, that could have been a really tough afternoon.

“Thankfully we were able to see off the weather and the opposition. Cheltenham have got a few issues, a few injuries and they’re struggling a little bit.”

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