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THE new year started in the worst possible way for Swindon as a nightmare afternoon of injuries and disciplinary issues saw them crash to a 32-6 defeat at relegationthreatened Newbury Blues.
The Greenbridge Road side only narrowly trailed the Blues going into the final 20 minutes, but a game-ending knee injury to Charlie Vine and a red card for Connal Knott saw them concede a succession of late tries as they fell to defeat in Berkshire.
To make matters worse, coach Neil Loader was sent from the touchline following a disagreement with the referee, and influential fly-half Adam Westall suffered a broken nose which restricted him during the game.
Westall admitted the squad suffered from an over-indulgent Christmas period, during which Swindon were not able to train together as a squad in preparation for the clash.
“It was a complete nightmare really,” fly-half Adam Westall said.
“I think it was a case of the post-Christmas thing really, and I think a few people overindulged.
“Both sides were coming back after a bit of a break, and the reality of it all is that they wanted it more than us, that was clear to see.
“Newbury managed to train four times during the Christmas period while we didn’t, and we managed just a couple of boxing sessions and no real rugby.
“But we can’t use that all as excuses, as they wanted it more than us on the day and they deserved to win.
“Maybe this can be a bit of a wake-up call for some of the players because we didn’t deserve to win, and it proves that if you do not have the right attitude you will get beaten.
“There were 15 poor rugby players out there, and we need to do a lot better.”
Despite all their problems, Westall believes things might have turned out differently if they had not lost a number of players going into the final stages of the game.
“We were in it probably going into the last 20 minutes when everything happened, and from that point on they just ran up a few points on us which was hard,” he said.
“Charlie Vine injured his knee and Connal Knott was sent off for two yellow cards which didn’t help, and then Neil had to go and watch the game from the changing rooms, but if he had still been on the touchline a few better decisions might have been made.
“The referee heard some conversations on the touchline which he didn’t like, and to lose your head coach is hard.
“I broke my nose and I just couldn’t stop the bleeding, and again that isn’t ideal.”