SWINDON captain Mike Thompson admitted his side were slow out of the blocks as they were beaten 24-12 by South West One East newcomers Marlborough in Saturday’s league opener, writes SAM HILL.

Marlborough built a 17-0 lead and despite Swindon cutting the deficit, the newcomers comfortably closed out the game at Greenbridge Road.

The visitors’ quick start paid dividends as Garth Bari burst through Swindon’s defensive line and offloaded to Pio Tuwai to touch down between the posts, although the conversion was missed.

Tuwai was soon in again, chipping the ball over the defence before chasing down to gather and score his second, with the extras added by Will Grant.

Debutant Tom West put Marlborough within five metres of the Swindon line and a good lineout move led to Inosi Laqekoro diving over, Grant’s conversion stretching the lead further.

Tuwai was sin-binned 10 minutes before half-time, allowing the hosts to exploit the extra man advantage, scoring an unconverted try through Charlie Cox, who added another on the stroke of the interval, Connal Knott converting to get the hosts to within five points.

Thompson, who due to injury was watching the game, admitted: “You could tell the lads were a little rusty with it being our first real test after a tough pre-season.

“When we stuck to our game plan, we punished Marlborough, and when we retained possession we were able to put pressure on them.

“To their credit, Marlborough had a good defence, which I think made the lads try and play a bit more loosely which resulted in more mistakes and turn overs.”

Marlborough skipper Jamie Pittams said: “It feels great to get our first win, especially in the first game of the season against a tough side.

“We knew it would be tough with the step up into a higher quality league, but we started well and took our chances when they came to us.”