Firsts edge it
By Marcus Wiltshire
Two penalties in the last 10 minutes saw Wallingford edge a close match away at Reading.
Wallingford made the short trip to Reading looking to round off a run of 6 games since Christmas with a win. In selection, there was the return of Lawson Dallimore, Nathan Chapman and David Baxter upfront whilst Rhys Arnold and Leon Bowd stepped up from the 2s to cover the missing pair of Ralph Smith and Sam Botting.
After the mudbaths of recent weeks, the Reading pitch was in good condition and this led to a fast tempo first half with both teams looking to run the ball and play open rugby.
The opening exchanges were filled with good play and basic errors from both sides. Reading were first on the score sheet after a quick set lineout saw them drive over in the corner, converted by their scrum half (7-0).
Wallingford responded quickly after as a neat cross field kick from Tom Swainston was collected by Rhys Arnold on the bounce to cross for a try, conversion missed from Dawes (7-5).
With neither side dropping off the pace, Reading hit back with another score (12-5) before Wallingford again closed the gap as Nathan Chapman scored from close range, Dawes again pushed the conversion wide (12-10).
Swainston then had a hand in Wallingfords third try as he spotted a gap to break through before good carries from the forwards saw James Norris cross the line from 1cm out. Dawes again wide with the conversion (12-15).
The second half kicked off with a quick score for Reading as they made a break up-field before finishing out wide (17-15). Following this, the open game became a much more tense affair as Wallingford looked to get back into the game. Continued pressure from the away side saw Reading concede a penalty which Dawes converted to bring them back into the lead (17-18) before Reading again responded with a penalty of their own (20-18).
Into the final 10 and a great break from Ian Jeffreys almost secured the bonus point try, only to be hauled down just short before an accidental offside put pay to the opportunity. The away side were not finished however and pressuring Reading in their own half, they conceded a penalty which was converted by Phil Dawes (20-21).
From the kick off, Wallingford controlled the game superbly and slowly worked their way upfield before a last ditch attempt to regain possession saw Reading again concede a penalty which Dawes again converted (20-24). There was time for the game to restart but Wallingford retained possession and cleared to bring the final whistle and victory.
In an exciting game it was the away side who secured what was possibly a first ever victory away to Reading (one for stats man Ralph Smith). MOTM went to Jack Greenway who caused the home side problems both in the tight and the loose.
A welcome week off before Wallingford travel to league leaders Beaconsfield.