READING Abbey Ladies captain Joey Fowler insists there is still time to right past wrongs after her side missed the chance to overtake Newbury at the top of Championship South West Two on Sunday, writes Fiona Tomas.

The Nuns suffered a 26-12 defeat in an intense local derby at Rose Hill, despite scoring a last-gasp try through Gwen Cartwright, which could prove vital come the end of the season.

But their discipline cost them as they struggled to break down an organised Newbury outfit who produced a rampant second-half showing. The result sees Abbey slip to third in the table, but with a game in hand.

However, Fowler remained defiant and praised her side’s tremendous work-rate ahead of an away fixture with Wimbledon this Saturday.

“The match was a real dog-fight, but Newbury blew us out of the water in the second half,” said the lock.

“The girls put a big shift in and I’m really proud of them. We knew it was going to be a tough game – it always is against Newbury – but there’s still a long way to go this season.”

It was an energetic start from Abbey, whose strong set-pieces and forward build-up play put the visitors on the back foot before grabbing the first points in a fiercely contested first half.

Impressive carries from Jess Potter, Fowler and Abi Wall helped Abbey advance into the Blues’ territory after a quarter of an hour, before hooker Claire Stevens crashed over after several phases, with Annabel Hawkins squeezing the conversion through the uprights.

But in a game interrupted by knock-ons in greasy conditions, Newbury’s Jemma Thripp pounced on a loose ball in Abbey’s half to dive over in the corner, with Chloe Hunt adding her first of three conversions.

The Nuns spearheaded a forward game plan which saw Hollie King drive tirelessly at Newbury’s defence, bearing the brunt of some huge hits.

But Jack Reynolds' side struggled to adopt their usual expansive, fluid rugby out wide, despite scrum half Ellie Rice combining well with Hawkins, who matched Newbury’s kicking territory for much of the game.

However, it was Newbury who took the initiative after the break, undeterred by missing an earlier chance to go ahead through a penalty.

When Abbey’s Meaghan Fowler saw yellow, the Blues capitalised as the fiery Lizzie Harris streaked through to score, before a fine solo effort from Lauren Hasset and a Meg Mason interception all but condemned Abbey to a second successive defeat to their Berkshire foes.

But Abbey enjoyed the final word when substitute Gwen Cartwright powered over in the corner for her first Nuns try.