STOW slipped to a narrow defeat at Reading Abbey, making it three in a row by an aggregate of just six points. Soon their luck must change.

Southern Counties North

Reading Abbey 10

Stow 8

Reading Abbey soon worked out that Stow's front line kicker was absent on the day and were happy to give away a string of penalties in defence. Unfortunately, without Nick Cafearo to slot penalties Stow kept kicking for territory but failed on numerous occasions to win the resulting line-out.

The referee seemed reluctant to issue a yellow card for persistent infringements even when James Kelly was brought down by his neck while making good ground.

Stow's pack was also under pressure in the set piece but a few alterations soon saw them retain parity in the scrum. When the pressure changed to the other end of the pitch Reading managed to turn their pressure into points with a good score and conversion followed by a penalty.

The half-time score was 10-0 to Reading and deservedly so.

Stow showed great improvement in the second half with Ben Ulmer (second row turned winger!) scoring a good try, while the conversion from George Roddan just went wide.

The forwards now appeared to have the edge and the backs were running hard but the breakdowns were getting messy. Reading's tactic was to encourage rucking but the ref harshly yellow-carded two Stow players and they were down to 13 men.

They held out well and during this phase of play Roddan kicked a penalty to take the score to 10-8. When Stow were back to 15 players in the dying minutes there was not enough time to get a winning score as the Reading defence held firm despite some strong running and good interplay.