READING 61 GROVE 3 SOUTH CENTRAL 2 29102022
Report by Peter Chidgey
Reading romped to an impressive victory over Grove with a display which belied their league position. The forwards provided a plentiful supply of ball and the backs made use of it with impressive running and slick handling.
In all Reading ran in nine tries, of which Matt Smart converted eight, most from difficult positions and restricted Grove to a solitary penalty.
Reading started with an experimental back row containing Stuart Borthwick at open side and Christian Scott at Number 8, two of the previous week’s three- quarter line. They both allayed any concerns with strong performances. Scott was impressive in the line outs but was unfortunately injured at the start of the second half whilst Borthwick’s strike running set up a number of opportunities.
Reading took an early lead when Tom Sharp crossed in the corner for a converted try after multiple phases which eventually tied in all the Grove defenders. They doubled their lead when Christian Scott pounced on a loose ball and crossed the line after an initial break by Murray-Smith from a scrum near the Grove line.
Grove had a good period of attack after the Reading’s second try but their only reward was a penalty. Grove then lost a player to a yellow card and Reading turned the screw with two more tries in quick succession. Murray-Smith scored near the posts after a break by Borthwick and Matt Daw then had too much pace for the covering defence after he was put clear by a miss pass from Matt Smart for an unconverted try to give Reading their try bonus point.
Reading had not finished their first half yet and proceeded to score the try of the game. Winning a line out near the Grove line a good initial break by Smith reached the half-way line and the ball was then moved along the back line to Dorliac whose strong run was stopped in the Grove 22. The ball was recycled to Smart whose inch-perfect cross kick was caught by Ben Wills who crossed unopposed for Reading’s fifth try for a 33-3 half time lead.
Reading took a while to get going in the second half but towards the hour mark scored two more converted tries. The first was from Vincent Mose, a former Kenyan international, on his first team debut, who was put in by a clever overhead pass from Finbar O’Regan. The second was from Alex Dorliac who took advantage of an inside pass after an initial break by Matt Smart.
It was then only left for Reading to round off their performance with another converted try from Ben Wills after another inch perfect cross kick from Matt Smart and an opportunist try from Nathan Wheeler after a tired Grove clearance kick hit one of their players and bounced back over the line. Matt Smart’s conversion from wide out brought up 61 points to give Reading their biggest victory of the season.
This was a good all round performance by a Reading team which now seems to have adjusted to this league. What was pleasing about this display was the speed at which the ball was moved. Both O’Regan and Smart are comfortable in the ‘number 10’ role and this now gives the back line plenty of options. Smart again made a big difference, having a hand in four of the tries as well as scoring 16 points with his place kicking.
Head coach Lee Goodall was extremely pleased with Reading’s performance which he thought had been ‘bubbling up’ over the last few weeks and was the perfect follow up to the better display which just ended in defeat at Devizes.
Reading’s next test is to reproduce this form on the road where they have yet to win. Next week they travel to Swindon who are below them in the league which they must see as an opportunity after this display.
Try: Ben Wills (2), Tom Sharp, Christian Scott, Alex Murray-Smith, Matt Daw, Vincent Mose, Alex Dorliac, Nathan Wheeler
Conversions: Matt Smart (8)
Team: Alex Dorliac; Tom Sharp, Alex Murray-Smith, Matt Smart, Matt Daw; Finbar O’Regan, Nathan Wheeler; Harry Wilson, Steve King, Josh Nichol; Lewis Donnelly, Ryan Smith;, Will Proctor-Searle, Stuart Borthwick, Christian Scott.
Replacements:, Ben Wills. Louie McArdle, Vincent Mose