READING 14 AYLESBURY 29 SOUTHERN COUNTIES NORTH 10 03 18
Reading’s poor run in 2018 continued as high-flying Aylesbury secured a bonus point victory on their first league visit to Holme Park. Reading’s effort cannot be faulted as they worked hard to keep themselves in the game but they could not match the consistency and power of the visitors. Neither could they pierce a solid, well organised defence.
Part of this was down to the superior carrying game and ball retention of the visitors and Reading gave themselves no help by giving away many penalties, admittedly from a referee who spent much of the game formally warning the two skippers without real follow up.
The frustration for the Reading coaches and supporters is that while the team get so much right – good scrummaging and lineout work, for example – mistakes creep in and ground is lost. A classic example was an attacking movement in the 52nd minute. Losing 8-15 at the time Reading were in the Aylesbury half with a good attacking opportunity. Three attempted long passes in the backs later they had lost possession and were defending. Aylesbury scored a converted try and had pulled 14 points clear. Sometimes it is such moments that decide a game.
Reading started the game well taking the play to Aylesbury through Nick Portch’s box kicking. This brought Reading a tenth minute penalty which Porch kicked to give his side the lead.
After this the visitors began to put on the pressure and, following a line-out catch and drive the ball was whipped out to the fly half who scored a try, converted. To their credit Reading came back well from this and, on the half hour, drove over a five metre line-out with hooker Alex Watson claiming the touch down. Reading had the lead but were unable to hold it to half time as the visitors drove a lineout over for a try to re-take the lead 12-8.
The second half saw Reading concede two converted tries and a penalty as the visitors took control. The plus side for the home side was when they brought on new fly half Lloyd Thomas, who showed that he had a powerful boot, both from the ground and through the air. Some good steepling kicks gave his side an extra attacking ploy and he kicked two long-range penalties. The second, on 75 minutes, put Reading just eight points behind with five minutes to go. Aylesbury’s late converted try then settled matters.
Reading scores: Alex Watson try, Nick Portch pen, Lloyd Thomas (2 pens).
TEAM: James Mitchell; Will Proctor-Searle, Alex Murray-Smith, Melvyn Gilmour, Chris Greig; Jos Clark, Nick Portch; Josh Pallett, Alex Watson, Josh Nicol, Connor Lee, Ashley Chapman, Taylor Mcroberts, Grant Spears, Charlie Davies Replacements: Patrick Johnson, Fraser Koefman, Lloyd Thomas
Updated 18:59 - 20 Mar 2018 by Andy Clark