READING Abbey battled bravely, but ultimately fell to a four-try second-half effort from Southern Counties North leaders Windsor as they lost 34-10 at Home Park.

The hosts opened the scoring in the fifth minute when Patrick Burch crossed and Jack Gaylor added the extras.

However, Abbey’s pack took the battle straight back with a series of excellent pick and drives, and after encamping on the opposition try line, Ed House was rewarded with a try.

Charlie Shackleford first added the extras followed by a penalty three minutes later to put Abbey deservedly in the lead 10-7.

It was a pulsating contest as play ebbed and flowed, Abbey’s travelling supporters disgruntled Windsor’s rapid play involved some forward passing which was not picked up, while there had been more than a hint of obstructive running in their first try.

Abbey kept the lead until three minutes before the break when a free-kick to Windsor saw the ball whisked out to wing James Cullen to make the most of his space and dab down, too wide out for the conversion.

Windsor had impressed, not just with their speed of play but their clever off-loads and a pack strong enough to have the edge in the scrums.

Abbey competed strongly, Jules Greenaway at full back was busy defending from the start, and had put Abbey in useful attacking positions with his running, while Gerry Sutherland at No. 8 had a good day, reliable as his scrum edged backwards.

Hooker Matt Hart, Abbey’s man-of-the-match, linked well with Treacle Knights in the line-out, and centres Mike Beckly and Charlie Shackleford made their presence felt, both defending and driving forward.

Ollie Charlton, Max Courtnage, and Chris Munce were all called upon as replacements to show the visitors’ strength in depth.

However, Abbey’s second-half performance fell away while Windsor maintained theirs, running in another four tries supplied by scrum-half Stuart Koutsouris, flanker James Winter, replacement Jack Bingham and a second from Burch, with only one converted.

Abbey stay in eighth position and host Slough on Saturday (2.30pm).