READING RFC were edged out in a cracking game of rugby full of sparkling attacking play as Southern Counties North leaders Buckingham scored a stoppage-time try to snatch a dramatic 41-34 away win.

The crucial moment came as Reading, perhaps controversially, were penalised in an attacking position with the score level at 34-34.

A couple of kicks later Buckingham had an attacking line-out which they drove over for the winning score. The subsequent conversion brought the game to an end.

Reading head coach Ben Wills admitted afterwards that he was “gutted”. Yet there was much which, on reflection, he can find encouraging.

First of all there was the resilience and determination displayed against a team which has won all eight matches to date.

This was seen particularly in Reading coming back from 34-17 down after 52 minutes to level just before the end.

The set-pieces went very well, with all but one Reading line-out won and the scrum also pushing their opposite numbers back.

Both sides were better in attack than defence, with elusive running from the two back divisions creating frequent try-scoring opportunities – the try count ended 7-6 to the visitors.

Yet things looked ominous for Reading early on. Buckingham looked to be an efficient, well-drilled side and they had their first try four minutes into the game.

Fifteen minutes later they added another try, this time converted, after a great flowing move. 12-0 down, Reading fought back as Alex Dorliac took advantage of a great run by full back James Mitchell to score a fine try, converted by Nick Portch.

Buckingham quickly came back with a converted try, but Reading swiftly retaliated with tries from second row Ryan Smith and Dorliac. Smith’s try came after a line-out catch-and-drive while Dorliac’s try, his second, followed good work from distance by Dan Witko and Chris Greig.

This cut the gap to 19-17, but just on half time a catch-and-drive line-out move gave the visitors a seven-point lead.

The first 12 minutes of the second half turned out to be the crucial period.

Despite Reading’s superiority in the scrums, helped by the return of ex-skipper Mark Roberts, some good play from the Buckingham backs brought them two tries, stretching their lead to 34-17.

Reading looked to be down and out, but Mitchell then took over. First, quick movement of the ball down the backs saw him race over from 50 yards.

Then No. 8 Adam Veale drove through from half-way and Mitchell finished off the move.

And finally Mitchell scored again as he made his way through a crowded situation from 20 yards out. This, with five minutes to go, levelled the scores.

All agreed this would have been a very fair final score, but Buckingham struck late to leave the hosts heartbroken.

Reading, though, played their full part in a high-standard game.

They have, however, lost four of their last five games despite scoring 152 points – including 24 tries – so need to tighten up in defence.

Reading do not have a game this weekend, returning to action at rock bottom Drifters on Saturday, December 9.