SEB Reynolds admitted the better side won as Rams’ almost two-year unbeaten home record was ended with a 23-10 National One defeat to last season’s runners-up Old Elthamians, writes Richard Ashton.

Last beaten at Old Bath Road back in January, 2018, the hosts never got going in a scrappy game which saw Elthamians grab their bonus-point fourth try with the final play of the match.

Reading Chronicle:

And Reynolds admitted: “It was very stop-start and we took a bit of time to get into the contest. We didn’t start well enough in the first 15 minutes and then we came into the game, but there were errors from both teams.

“We were very slow to get going and we never really got going for the full 80 minutes.”

He continued: “At this level you cannot drop your standard for a second, you can’t drop one, two per cent or you lose the game. Elthamians are a really good side and we were a bit flat, we weren’t at our best and we got beaten by a better side.

“We haven’t lost at home for a long time so it hurts, but we’ll move on and get better for it.”

Reading Chronicle:

In a frenetic start to the contest, the visitors lost prop Austin Hay to injury but opened the scoring when hooker Nathan Morris went over in the corner, Ollie Bryant unable to add the extras.

Despite losing wing Henry Bird to an arm injury during that score, Rams hit back and moved in front when captain Robbie Stapley pounced on a loose ball and powered over, Will Partington converting to give his side a 7-5 lead at the interval.

However, OEs made a blistering start to the second half and regained the lead when full-back Louis Brown collected a perfectly weighted Bryant pass to dot down on the left.

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A Partington penalty levelled matters, but the visitors took a decisive grip on the game when Ollie Claxton darted over as the game approached its final quarter and Marc Koteczky landed a penalty.

Rams tried to fightback, but their opponents shut the game down efficiently before Brown’s second score confirmed their bonus-point. Koteczky was unable to add the extras with the final kick of the game, but the away side were left to reflect on a job well done.

Despite the defeat, Rams remain fourth in the table, and Reynolds is happy with how they have adapted to life in the third tier of English rugby.

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He commented: “We’re trying to find our feet at this level and we’ve been doing an extremely good job – I can’t fault the players for a single second. If you drop you’re level at all you’ll lose, and that’s what we’ve found at Bishop’s Strortford, Blackheath, Richmond and against Old Elthamians – the other sides take their opportunities.

“We would have taken seven wins from 11 games. The disappointment with this defeat is the surprise with how well we’ve been competing at this level, and in the games we’ve lost we’ve been in the game. But the guys want to get better.”

He continued: “We’re enjoying it and that’s the main thing. We have a good squad who are very together, they’re good mates who work hard for each other and we’ve got good young players coming through. We’ve got good depth and after 11 games we’re in a healthy position, but we’ve got to kick on.”

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Rams will have the chance to bounce back when they visit basement side Canterbury next Saturday, but the director of rugby warned: “Canterbury are a good side. They’ve had a tough start to the season, but we were in a real battle with them last season and they deserved their promotion. It’s going to be a very tough game.”

Reading Chronicle:

Rams 10 Old Elthamians 23


Tries: R Stapley 33

Conversions: Partington 34

Yellow Cards: Moates 56, Collis 78.

Old Elthamians

Tries: Morris 14, Brown 41, 80, Claxton 58

Penalty: Koteczky 69

Yellow Cards: Morris 31

Half Time: 7-5

Star Man: Louis Brown (Old Elthamians)

Attendance: 531

Referee: Charles Gayther

Rams: Partington, Bird (Seers 15), Leicester, Hayhow, Corrigan, Humberstone, Moates (Guttridge 60); Kidd,Henderson (Hayman 69), Zeiss (McDonnell-Roberts 52), Taylor (Collis 67), C Stapley, Guttridge (Sparkes 60), Vooght, R Stapley.

Old Elthamians: Brown, Goble, Koteczky, Eastwell, Perkins (Self 33, Perkins 42), Bryant (Landray 45, Claxton 55), Claxton (Morgan 55); Holenstein, Morris, Hay (Concu 11), Flashman, Parker, Saunders, Barton (Batt 29), Kovacic.