Got to disagree there - Northampton are a lot better than last year believe me. Last year we just about fulfilled the league fixtures due to the amount of plates we lost. This new side is pretty young and will get a lot better, they have only payed 3 games ina bout 6/7 weeks.
I think there were a few glimpses of what the side can do, ball retention has normally been at around 65 - 70 % this year. Today it couldn't have bettered 45%.
The problem is the midlands is probably the weakest premier league in the summer conference mewning less standard of competition. The Premier south side that awaits in the nationals will be a while different kettle if fish in which basic mistakes wont be as easy to get away with.
I'll defer to you on that - much easier to know what's going on inside than looking at 2 or 3 performances from outside. There's so much happening right now (Rebels, Hemel, Gloucestershire and possibly Bears into CC1, NCL applications, NCL3/RLCN meltdown) that I can't even hazard a guess as to how things shape up next season.
What I can say is that Bristol will have gained far more this season from being at the higher level, and getting regular and tougher games, than Northampton and Leicester. Even while they were being thumped. So that gap will have increased, but the gap from Northampton/Leicester to Hope Valley and us is also huge and I can't see how we could sensibly be at the same level. It's a massive region with a limited number of clubs at a wide range of standards.