READING Abbey blew a 12-0 lead as Shipston-on-Stour hit back to claim a 12-12 draw in a dour Southern Counties North encounter at Rosehill on Saturday.

After Jon Malivoire had missed an attempted drop-goal to give the hosts an early lead, Abbey did get their noses in front by scoring the opening try.

Hooker Jake Leach and fellow front row Adam Postlethwaite set-up a handy position with strong driving runs, and after Shipston were penalised in their 22, home fly-half Callum Aungier kicked for the corner.

Abbey won the line-out through Treacle Knights, and after a great drive from the forwards, Lewis Jones plunged over for the opening try of the game. Aungier failed to add the extras, but Abbey were deservedly ahead after eight minutes.

The try-scoring prop thought he had doubled his tally shortly afterwards, only for referee Leoni Pryor to spot a double movement as he attempted to barrel over from close range.

However, the second try did arrive around the 20-minute mark as Malivoire set-up the score with a clever run up the left touchline.

After wing Matt Ellis provided strong support, centre Brad Thomas burst over the line and touched down under the posts.

Aungier converted with ease, and Abbey were very good value for their 12-0 lead.

Shipston hit back, though, and with their first decent territorial gain in the match, they benefited at once.

The visiting forwards drove brilliantly from a line-out, and when the ball was moved to the left, Harry Clark came off his wing to cut through for a good try to the left of the posts. Outside half Rob James landed a good conversion, and Shipston had cut the deficit to five points.

Abbey replacement Charlie Shackleford twice attempt to increase the advantage, but failed to hit the target with a brace of penalties from between 30 and 35 metres.

Trailing 12-7 at the interval, Shipston struck quickly in the second half and levelled the scores with a well-worked try in the left corner by centre Toby Faulkner, although James could not convert.

And remarkably, despite both sides pressing for further scores, none came as the game approached the final five minutes.

At this stage Abbey had two further penalty chances to snatch victory, but Shackleford could not land either and they were left to settle for a draw.

Reading Abbey have a rest week before travelling to Stow-on-the-Wold on Saturday, February 1.