SWINDON St George were left frustrated by their line speed against Bristol Sonics as they went down 50-20 at Greenbridge Road on Saturday.
The defeat, St George’s third from three games, was again a case of a their try-scoring rally coming too late in the game to make an impact on the result.
Having matched Bristol’s early assaults on the St George line, the visitors pulled away in the latter stages of the opening 40.
Killian Spain’s absence was keenly felt as St George’s superior physical presence was not allied with the speed in defence the Irishman brings. Tries from the excellent Matt Dickens, as well Macauley Reynolds, Gwyn Jenkins and captain George Cowley all went unconverted as eventually Bristol ran out winners by 30 points.
Speaking to the Advertiser, Cowley said his side must learn from the mistakes of Saturday’s game as they look to improve.
“It was painful, we lost 50-20. Our line speed is our issue at the moment, the heat wasn’t a problem as we had a full bench but we lacked line speed, it’s very frustrating,” he said.
“When the game started they scored, then we replied. They were not physically stronger but (they were) a better drilled side and more efficient in attack. They were running off the play and off the ball, getting around the square markers to cut deep into defence.
“It’s not so much disappointment as frustration, disappointment would dictate I was annoyed with the standard. The problem at the moment is recognising our weaknesses, and doing something about it.
“We’ve got to really work on turning defensive line speed around, game fitness is a big aspect of that.”
Cowley is well aware of the current limitations of his side, as many are still learning to play together, but he knows the team cannot be reliant on stand-out players.
“Attacking-wise, when you’ve got key playmakers doing too much defence, when defence does turn into attack you lack the strike power to win the game.
“Physically we’re the biggest in the league but it’s line speed that’s key. Again Matt Dickens had a storming game but you can only put some much pressure on two or three individuals.
“It was tit for tat to start the game, they capitalised on our weakness. It was a more equal contest in second half, we were more dominant in the latter stages, they got a couple of early tries then we started clawing it back, anybody in contact sport will tell you it’s difficult to regain a heavy deficit.”
This weekend St George travel to play Gloucestershire Warriors, hoping to get their first points of the season.