FITNESS was again crucial for Swindon St George as they lost out to Cheltenham Old Patesians 52-20 at Greenbridge Road.

After the first 15 minutes St George were up 10-6, with tries from Carl Baker and Liam Rowe. However those were the last opening half scores for the home side as Cheltenham ran in four times to lead 28-10 at the break.

Two Mike Thompson tries early in the second half pulled the scoreline back to within eight. Then the gaps began to appear in the Swindon line as their fitness faded.

In a repeat of the scoring from the first half Cheltenham scored four unanswered tries as the Swindon side finished with a 32 point defecit to their visitors.

Despite St George’s fading performances in each half captain George Cowley was happy with his team’s effort.

“Fitness is still an issue for us, we’re one of the largest forward units in the league but in the heat it has a big effect,” said Cowley.

“It was an encouraging performance, we’ve said from the outset this is our development season, this was another example of that, the things we are working on as a club are starting to take hold.

“We overheard the opposition saying they were not expecting the level of conflict we brought to the game. The tackle intensity at the contact point was considerably higher than they anticpated.

“I’m still happy with the lads performance, commitment and effort.”

The St George captain was also full of praise for returning loose forward Mike Thompson and impact substitute Rowe, the latter for his excellent try.

“Thommo, made a huge difference from a fitness and line speed perspective, he was the lynchpin element in our game,” Cowley added.

“Liam Rowe, scored a great try. He cut the half back on a lovely line and went through, he’s been playing a lot of sevens and was really positive.”

The defeat means St George stay bottom of the South West Premier Division, and still in search of their first win of the season with three games remaining.