READING Abbey Ladies secured their first win under new coach Lewis Jones after overcoming Sheffield 19-5 in the second round of their cup campaign, writes Fiona Tomas.

An opening try from Hollie King put the hosts in pole position, which was complemented by another from Annette Tomas before the break.

Sheffield pulled a score back in the second half, but Tomas curtly rounded off proceedings with her fourth try in two cup fixtures.

This was a game earmarked for several first-team debuts among a handful of the club’s second-team stalwarts.

Among them was Jess Williams, whose robust tackling, along with first-team regular Fi Manning, trussed up Abbey’s defence in the opening quarter to keep the Yorkshire side at bay.

The visitors had enjoyed the lion’s share of possession early on, but intelligent kicking from centre Alice Denton kept them grounded in their own half on several occasions.

Abbey also laid down a marker in the scrum – with other first-team debutants Zuzia Briggs and Megan Turnell making an immediate impact in the pack at prop and flanker respectively.

It was from a disrupted Sheffield line-out where captain Joey Fowler pounced to win back the ball – and Abbey capitalised from the ensuing play.

Strong carries from backs Hayley Matthews and Lia Gingell saw the ball fed wide, before King exploited a gap in the centre of the pitch and side-stepped several defenders to score under the posts.

Denton duly slotted through the uprights – as she did throughout much of the afternoon.

And it was from another set-piece which Abbey increased their margin – with Fowler again jumping high in the line-out to blow the wind out of Sheffield’s sails with another excellent steal.

It led to a marauding attack from Tomas, who spotted space behind Sheffield’s defensive line to chip over the ball and touch down under the posts.

The second half saw Abbey implement a brand of rugby akin to the zeitgeist of team which scored so prolifically two seasons ago.

Probing new pod structures – particularly among Meaghan Fowler, Kath Sheppard and Emily Henderson continued to test Sheffield’s line, while a sizzling run from Anais Carbon was almost executed by Lou Burgham.

But Sheffield’s back line launched several threatening breaks of their own and a series of missed tackles led them to gaining their opening try to pull the score back to 14-5.

Abbey, however, denied all possibility of a comeback when hooker Claire Stevens released Tomas, who blitzed the length of the field to grab her second and ensure an Abbey victory.

The Nuns second XV also tasted victory with a 22-20 win over a much-improved Marlow side, meaning there was a double home win for both Nuns sides for the first time this season.

Speaking after both matches, Abbey head coach Jones said: “I’m really pleased with being able to blood a few players this week, both in the first team and development side.

“We had a few changes in positions during the game which was interesting, Alice moving to No. 8 at one point and Annette fulfilling her lifelong dream of playing at open-side.

“The biggest positive for me was getting two teams out and both coming away with hard fought wins.”