READING Abbey mounted a brave fightback, but ultimately came up short 27-25 in their home Southern Counties North game with Wallingford on Saturday.

An early Phil Dawes penalty put the visitors in front, and they extended their advantage when Jules Greenaway mis-judged a bouncing ball, allowing Craig Irwin to collect his own speculative kick to dot down. Dawes missed the conversion, but Wallingford were 8-0 up.

The home side rallied, though, and hit back after prop Ross Orrburns barrelled over following a series of drives near the line.

Charlie Shackleford's conversion attempt drifted wide, however, and it was Wallingford who made the next move, pacey flanker Dave Baxter racing over before Dawes landed a superb touchline kick.

Trailing 15-5 at the interval but with a man advantage following Nathan Chapman's yellow card, Abbey responded well in the second period and a smart break from scrum-half Will Bevan led to him scoring on the left-hand touchline. Shackleford added the extras to cut the gap to three points.

It was Wallingford who scored next, though, extending their lead through a Jackson Sayce try before a Shackleford penalty made it 20-15.

The decisive try came from visiting full-back Dan Sadler, who crossed despite his side again being reduced to 14 following the sin-binning of Dawes, Sayce converting the second to push the lead to 12 points.

The home side hit back, however, and gave themselves hope courtesy of a try from George Pawlett, Shackleford's touchline conversion attempt bouncing wide off the left-hand post to leave his side still seven points in arrears.

Abbey kept attacking as they went in search of a levelling score, and Shackleford gave himself the chance to do so when crossing for his side's bonus-point try.

However, his conversion attempt again drifted wide with three minutes remaining, and Abbey were unable to fashion one final score, ending the game with two bonus-points.

Seventh-placed Abbey have a week off before visiting Aylesbury on Saturday, March 2.