1st XV - Report
READING 29 SALISBURY 34 by Ted Goodhew
A tremendous come-back, with 3 tries in the last ten minutes, came close to bringing a completely unexpected victory over promotion-chasing Salisbury.
Then the nature of the game changed. Helped by the presence of a fresh Richie Pryor at prop, the Reading pack began to deliver. Fly half Sweeney threw long passes about and the backs, for the first time in the game, had the opportunity to run with the ball rather than have to tackle constantly. Alex Dorliac was always a threat and Andy Tweedie, having his best game of the season, Chris Greig, Sean Lynch, Richard Lester and Clinton Gibson enjoyed their new opportunity to run and pass.
Yet the try in this late spell, when it came, was opportunist. Wily prop Shaun Collins stayed out wide on the right wing as a maul formed on the left. Fly half Sweeney spotted him and sent him an inch-perfect kick which Collins caught. The prop still had work to do but he cut inside one man and crashed through another to touch down an extraordinary - and highly popular - try. Sweeney converted but Reading immediately conceded a soft try from the kick-off, seemingly wasting all the good work that had gone before.
Now 17-34 down with just minutes remaining Reading looked to be down and out, with perhaps further punishment to come. Far from it though, as they made it a remarkable last few minutes. First, the ever dangerous Alex Dorliac got away and dodged his way through for his second try of the afternoon. Then Reading came back for another great try, this time completed by Sean Lynch, and, with one conversion, Reading were suddenly within five points of their visitors. The last couple of minutes were spent with the home team throwing the ball around and running incisively at the Salisbury defence but, in the end, the visitors held out for the victory their previous efforts had deserved. For Reading the game brought two points but they still went down a league place.
Things had looked ominous right from the start as the visitors pushed Reading off their own scrummage ball and hampered their lineout attempts too. With Reading starved of ball it was no surprise when the visitors took an early lead with a penalty. Yet Reading took the lead when a rare foray into the visitors’ half ended with a well-taken Dorliac try.
Salisbury resumed the attack and tries from their half backs, one following Reading being pushed off their own five metre scrum, put the visitors comfortably up at 15-5. However, despite having little ball, Reading still managed to conjure a threat and Sweeney scored a good try to close the gap, only for more Salisbury pressure to end up with an inevitable try just before half time.
In the second half more Salisbury pressure and an almost-inevitable yellow card under pressure, led to another converted Salisbury try and a 10-27 deficit. No-one, at that time, could have expected the heroics and tension to come in what was basically a fine, well fought game, played in the right spirit on a bright sunny afternoon. Rugby at its best!
READING: Clinton Gibson; Andrew Tweedie, Alex Dorliac, Peter Czernuszka, Chris Greig; Rob Sweeney, Richard Lester; Mark Roberts (Richard Pryor), Steve King, Shaun Collins, Rob Sykes (Ashley Chapman), Sean Kenneally, Jon Cranton (Sean Lynch), Seb Assefuah, Scott Heirene (capt)
Reading scores: Tries: Dorliac (2), Sweeney, Collins, Lynch
Cons: Sweeney (2)