NEIL Loader, backs coach for Dorset & Wilts rugby thinks his side have a “tough ask” in qualifying for the Championship Shield semi-final.

An 18-37 defeat for the young Twin Counties side in their opening game against Berkshire means that only a bonus win by 18 points against Oxfordshire will see them through to the semi-final of the competition. A scenario only made possible by Oxfordshire’s win against Berkshire last weekend.

Loader, the former Swindon head coach and Alan Low, the current coach at Royal Wootton Bassett have this week been working with a Dorset & Wilts side that features eight locally-based players and one more as a travelling reserve.

From what he has seen in training and in their first match against Berkshire Loader thinks his side can cause problems for Oxfordshire.

“(Oxfordshire’s win against Berkshire) means it’s not a dead rubber going into the game and you know it’s a big task, we need to win by 18 points and get a bonus point but we’ve got a target, we know what we need to do,” Loader told the Adver.

“Last night (in training) we looked at a few things, Alan (Low) looked at some video with the guys, it’s real top line stuff.

“As a rep side we can’t get into the nuts and bolts but when I had the backs they looked really sharp and applied themselves really well. Then when we chucked them together, especially our lines, looked really good.

“We know the size of the task, we’ve played against the majority of these players for our club sides as they play for Grove. They’re a big and strong team and they can play about as well.

“It’s going to be a sizeable task. When we got our game right against Berks, we looked good, but we didn’t do enough of it.

“We didn’t join the dots and that’s we’ve looked at doing a bit more. When we get that right I believe we can definitely trouble Oxfordshire.”

The eight players in the squad going to the Witney are Gary Williamson, Connal Knott (Swindon); Gavin Ougan, David Hogg, Phil Bardwell, Duncan Fulling (Royal Wootton Bassett); Gareth Davis (Swindon College Old Boys) and Killian Spain (Supermarine).