LONDON Irish put in a credible performance, but it was not quite enough to stop Gallagher Premiership table-toppers Exeter Chiefs as Declan Kidney's side went down 45-28 at Madejski Stadium on Sunday.

It’s been a bad festive period for Exiles during the last few weeks, and they'll now be looking over their shoulder after Leicester showed a return to form and bottom side Saracens continue to fight their way back from their 35-point penalty earlier in the season.

Irish have a respite from domestic action as they return to the European Challenge Cup with a trip to Bayonne on Saturday, so let’s hope they can get a result and build some momentum over in France.

Rams started the new year with another brilliant National One win, overcoming Darlington Mowden Park 27-17 at Old Bath Road.

The hosts were dominant in the pack and also showcased some magnificent defence when required to secure a bonus-point.

Darlington never gave up and they came back at Rams, but Seb Reynolds' men managed the end of the game well and got there in the end.

Next up for Rams is a trip to nearest rivals Chinnor on Friday night, which should be a great occasion.

My boys Reading chalked up another fabulous Southern Counties North victory as we triumphed 36-14 at home to Shipston On Stour.

Having been edged out 17-15 at their place earlier in the season, it was nice to get the New Year off to a good start and gain a measure of revenge.

I must pay tribute to head coach Ben Wills, who has really turned things round superbly after we lost four of our first six games.

Since then we have won six in a row and racked up 268 points to climb to third in the table, which is a brilliant effort.

Next up is a derby at Reading Abbey on Saturday, and that could be an absolute cracker after they hit back from 25-11 down to stun high-flying Marlow 33-32 last weekend.

Lastly, Berkshire Shire Hall collected five points in Berks, Bucks & Oxon Two South after Reading University conceded their game.

Second-placed Shire Hall visit Newbury 3rds on Saturday.