Rugby: Tony Wheat eyes positives from heavy Longton defeat
TONY Wheat believes last week's mauling at Ampthill could benefit Longton's future development.
The National League Three Midlands leaders romped to a 70-8 victory to chalk up their 18th win in 20 outings this season.
Longton could justifiably point to the absence of key players in the back division, with Luke Fowles, Chris Buck, Chris Tennuci and Sam Moors all sidelined.
But director of rugby Wheat says the fact the club's youngsters were exposed to such quality will reap long-term rewards.
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Ethan Clowes and Tom Scragg were among the starlets drafted into the side, and they are likely to be involved again for Saturday's trip to second-placed Sutton Coldfield.
"It was one of those days when you have to learn lessons," said Wheat.
"Ampthill have now scored 70 points in their last three home matches and they were stronger, fitter and faster than our guys.
"The physicality is also a big factor which the players have to come to terms with.
"It didn't help missing a lot of our experience, but the young players now know what is expected at this level.
"Ampthill have set the bar very high and the youngsters have been shown what is required to be successful at this standard.
"We knew it was going to be a tough ask for them, but the positive aspect is that we never raised the white flag and kept going to the end."
With Longton without their big-name players for the weekend trip south, they are likely to cast their eye over move young players.
England Colleges hooker Curtis Greene and prop Joe Newton-Taylor will feature in the pack for Wheat's men.
Sutton Coldfield have a comfortable 15-point advantage over third-placed South Leicester, although they are only three behind Ampthill.
And with the leading duo scheduled to meet in a couple of weeks, the pressure is on them to keep pace at the summit.
"Sutton haven't racked up the sort of scores Ampthill have, but they are a solid side," explained Wheat.
"In the first half of the home game, they blew us away, but we held our own after half-time.
"Sutton will still have aspirations to win the title, and need the win to stay in touch with Ampthill, so there is a lot riding on the game for them.
"We'll give it our best shot and travel with a positive attitude.
"But the matches we have targeted as potential wins are the upcoming ones against Broadstreet, Hinckley and Bournville."
SANDBACH were beaten 31-5 by Sutton Coldfield last week, and their fixture schedule doesn't get any easier in National League Three Midlands.
They make the trip to South Leicester, and will need to repeat their battling performance against Sutton in order to pick up a positive result.
Despite the scoreline, Sandbach managed to keep pace with the high-fliers until the latter stages of the game before shipping three late tries.