TOM Mannion believes Swindon will be comfortable playing a forwards-oriented game if that is what it takes to sink Neil Loader’s Salisbury team tomorrow.
The Greenbridge Road side will be aiming to complete a South West 1 East double when their Wiltshire arrivals make the trip to the north of the county, with the match set to be played in at-best soft conditions.
Heavy rain was forecast to fall on Swindon tomorrow at the time of going to press and yet another dose of the wet stuff is unlikely to be conducive to playing the running rugby that Swindon have traditionally favoured in recent years.
However, number eight Mannion insists that off the back of a patient display against Marlow last weekend, in which Swindon triumphed 45-0 after controlling the game through their pack, his team will happily operate similar tactics again.
He said: “At the start of the season we went on a long run of winning games and throwing it wide. But when it gets to the winter months you have to be able to play a different game as you can’t play that wide, expansive rugby.
“Don’t get me wrong, we have some very dangerous backs and pace out wide, but as the conditions are at the moment we’re more than happy to keep the ball with our forwards, going on last Saturday’s performance.
“We might have to take it to them up front. Last Saturday we were scoring from most scrums inside the 22 because our front five are absolute powerhouses.
“The pitch does get bad sometimes but we’ve got a few players in our team who are mud monsters and love to play that kind of rugby.”
Mannion is aware that Loader’s return to his former club lends the fixture an extra frisson and knows that the Salisbury chief will need no second invitation to motivate his troops.
“They will be fired up for it and that’s especially the case with Neil coming back to the club that he calls his home and there’s bragging rights at stake,” said Mannion.
“He knows a lot of our players quite well and we know him, so tactically it will be interesting to see what he goes with.
“It’s not that we want to prove we’re better than Neil, we want to go out and show that we’re a good team and make a statement for the area we’re in.
“We are coming off the back of a good win last weekend and so are they, so it’s set up for a good game.”
Meanwhile, a £15,000 grant from the Hills Group has ensured that the rugby fields at Swindon will be put to maximum use following the installation of field floodlights.