MARK Lea is happy with how his Swindon College Old Boys side have adjusted to life at the higher grade this season.

College fought back well away to Swanage & Wareham last Saturday to kick off their calendar year with a welcome 29-27 victory in Southern Counties South and now sit in mid-table following their title-winning success in Berks/Bucks & Oxon Premier last term.

Nick Tuckett bagged two tries for a depleted College side, who trailed their Dorset hosts 17-3 at one stage.

“I always knew this group of players had talent but to see them show a dogged spirit is great,” said Lea.

“When you add that spirit to talent, it is a great combination. I never had any doubt there was talent, but it is easy to play when things are going well.

“This league is far, far tougher than the league were in last year and we have won six, and lost six, so we are in a much better position than what I expected us to be.

“I’m looking forward to the second half of the season, to be honest, if they continue to show that kind of spirit.

“It was our first game of 2018, so it was good to get the win.”

However, College will be without the services of Tuckett for tomorrow’s home date with Devizes after he fractured his leg.

Lea said: “It’s a shame because he has been out for a long period because he’d been suspended but, other than that, we are at full strength.”

The two teams are locked together on 29 points apiece, with College winning the reverse fixture 15-8.

“They have improved since then, so that will be a test,” warned Lea.

Royal Wootton Bassett will look to bounce back from a 31-29 home defeat at the hands of Witney when they travel to the south of the county to tackle a Salisbury outfit who are six points better off in sixth position in the South West One East standings.

Fourth-from-bottom Swindon face another tough assignment at home to Oxford Harlequins, having become Old Patesians’ latest victims last Saturday. The Cheltenham-based league leaders have won all 16 of their matches this term.