TWO tries from prolific wing Chris Greig and one from flanker Fraser Koefman were not enough to keep Reading in the hunt against a powerful and beefy Bicester side whose pass-and-drive tactics ultimately brought them six tries, four conversions and a penalty in a 41-19 Southern Counties North victory.

Reading contested strongly, but the loss of big forwards Rob Cunningham, Ryan Smith and Steve Orwin through injury meant the game ended with uncontested scrums and made defence against sizeable opponents all the more difficult.

Reading had their moments. Greig was always a danger and might have had four tries with his elusive running; however twice he was adjudged to have put his foot on the touch line when making a run for the whitewash. Small margins can make a difference.

The visitors made a bright enough start, but it was not long before strong pressure from Bicester brought them a converted try.

Reading responded well and moved the ball to Greig, who beat all in front of him to the line. Alex Dorliac’s conversion from the touchline brought the scores level.

A Bicester penalty was followed by Greig’s two near-misses before, on the half hour, the Oxfordshire side took the lead again with a converted try.

Before half time they scored another, with a catch-and-drive from a line-out, also converted and with Cunningham leaving the field Reading were not in a good place at 24-7 down.

Early in the second half a great break from Grant Spears ended as he was just unable to get the try-scoring pass away and Dorliac was wide with a penalty attempt. Inevitably, the home side drove back up-field and a line-out catch-and-drive took them up to 29 points.

This was followed by more driving play for another try before Reading came back with a combined move which ended with Koefman’s try.

Reading continued to work hard and good handling and passing set up Greig for a chance he gladly took. Before the finish, however, the home side scored another converted try.

Reading were, therefore, soundly beaten.

Their scrummaging was good, although the line-outs did not always come off, and some big tackles were put in, as they had to be.

Cunningham and Smith, before they went off, were both involved in some good driving play, while scrum-half Juillaume Janin and Alex Dorliac combined well at half back.

Centres Spears and Ben Mitchell also played with great commitment, but in the end there was no stopping the juggernaut.

l READING RFC Under 18 girls beat London Scottish 17-15 to win the Area 2 Cup and proceed to the National Semi-finals.