READING Abbey ran in six tries as they returned to Southern Counties North winning ways with a convincing 43-7 success at rock bottom Drifters on Saturday.

The home side have endured a tough season – winless in 14 games after their latest setback – and Abbey began brightly, securing an early lead courtesy of an excellent long-range penalty from Diego de Marcilla Bahlsen.

They moved further in front with their opening try of the afternoon on the half-hour mark.

A move involving player-coach Fungai Mutepfa – briefly on the field while Mike Beckly received medical attention – Richard King, Tom Burns and Chris Shaw was rounded off when Treacle Knights collected the ball to touch down to the left of the posts. De Marcilla Bahlsen added the extras, and Abbey had a 10-0 lead their dominance of territory deserved.

Within three minutes Abbey scored again. Knights took a good catch at a line-out close to the halfway line and Burns and captain Will Woodward made good ground.

When Burns received again he slipped the ball to centre Charlie Shackleford, who set off on a brilliant 35-metre run, crashing past defender after defender in a storming run to the line. Again de Marcilla Bahlsen converted, and Abbey now led 17-0.

The flurry of scoring continued, and Abbey got their third try in less than 10 minutes after an impressive bout of handling.

Burns and Gavin Dampies started the move, Shackleford took play into the 22 and Shaw made further ground. Then Burns’ pass to Woodward resulted in the skipper breaking through the Drifters’ defensive line, and his pass gave Ollie Charlton a simple run in to touch down under the posts. De Marcilla Bahlsen’s conversion gave Abbey a 24-0 at the interval.

The home side hit back early in the second half, a magnificent break by flanker Jamie Willis starting the attack.

He was stopped only just short of the line, but after Abbey were penalised and then obstructed further home progress, referee Jonathan Royals awarded Drifters a penalty try.

However, in a bizarre sequence of events, Abbey themselves were given a penalty try just a minute later when Drifters remained offside after they were penalised five metres from their line. Abbey now led 31-7 and they had the bonus point.

The visitors scored their fifth try when Drifters were penalised at a line-out in their own half. De Marcilla Bahlsen took a quick tap, found Woodward up in support, and Abbey’s skipper ran a brilliant diagonal line and crossed for a great individual try wide on the left.

De Marcilla Bahlsen’s conversion attempt bounced wide off the left post in what was to prove his only miss.

Drifters made a brave effort to raise their game in the final quarter, although they were not helped by a succession of injuries, and they were forced to play the final 10 minutes with 14 men after they ran out of replacements.

The game went to uncontested scrums, and Drifters came very close to scoring after one of these. The ball was moved to the right, but when the impressive Willis plunged over the line, Abbey replacement Daniel Norville did superbly to get underneath him and hold him up.

Soon after this Abbey stole possession and they put a gloss on proceedings when Woodward broke again to cross under the posts after a 30-metre charge. De Marcilla Bahlsen’s successful conversion was the final act of the game.

Reading Abbey host Gosford All Blacks on Saturday.