SWINDON will have to put hopes of an immediate return to South West One East on ice if they can’t make big improvements on their opening performance of the new campaign, says Adam Westall.

Following last season’s relegation, Swindon began life in Southern Counties South with a bump after falling to a 31-17 loss away at Walcot.

Jordan Sheppard and George Russ both ran in tries for the visitors in Bath, but that failed to take the gloss off a disappointing day overall for the Greenbridge Road side.

Senior player Westall says his team-mates and head coach Nick Brooks will need to make huge strides forward quickly if they are to fight their way into contention for promotion this season.

“I think after Saturday’s result, promotion is a far cry at the moment,” said Westall.

“We have had a wake-up call. There are no easy games in this division and we are going to be up against it in terms of trying to put some good performances together.

“Walcot were a mid-table side last season and they put 30-odd points on us. It shows we have got a bit of a soft underbelly and we need to catch up quite quickly on that front.

“I think this season will be about consolidation and just getting back to the brand of rugby that we played a few years back that allowed us to be quite successful.”

Westall admits the 2018-19 season was one to forget for Swindon as they won just four of 26 games in South West One East.

However, he insists there is no hangover from that disappointment as the club look to rebuild for a brighter future.

“League tables don’t lie and we weren’t good enough last season to stay in that division,” said Westall.

“I have expressed previously that commitment levels didn’t warrant those of a Swindon first-team player at Level Six, and the price you pay for that comes at the end of the season when you are relegated.

“There hasn’t been too much change over the summer. We have had a few new guys come in and bolster those key positions that we felt we were a bit light in last season, and we’ve lost some guys too.

“We have had a pretty good pre-season and now it is about getting into the swing of things at the lower level, which we didn’t do overly well at the weekend.”

Elsewhere, Swindon College Old Boys were also beaten in their Southern Counties South opener as they fell 25-20 away at Frome.

There was better fortune for Royal Wootton Bassett in South West One East as they claimed a second bonus-point win in a row after beating Old Patesians 34-10 at home.