A tremendous game of rugby in appalling conditions ended with Reading taking away Southern Counties North leaders Witney’s 100 per cent record and chalking up their 10th win in succession with a dramatic 10-5 triumph at Holme Park.

Reading Chronicle:

Witney were the last team to beat Reading, last October, but since then Reading’s winning run has put them in pole position for second place and a promotion play-off.

The match was played in dreadful weather conditions, with constant rain and a strong wind blowing from the west.

Reading Chronicle:

It took a magnificent first-half performance from the home pack who took a lot of possession during this time, crucial when they were playing against the wind.

They were helped initially by Witney’s failure to put boot to ball for the first 15 minutes or so, by which time Reading were establishing themselves up front.

Reading Chronicle:

When the visitors did start to use the boot, Reading’s back three, full-back Alex Dorliac and wings Chris Greig and Stuart Borthwick, combined well to snuff out the threat.

Often games such as these can be decided by one piece of individual brilliance, and that was the case here.

In the 68th minute, with Reading leading by just 3-0 following Alex Dorliac’s 62nd-minute penalty, Reading were attacking 30 yards out when fly-half Scott Howell spotted a gap and dummied his way through.

Reading Chronicle:

There was still much to do and people to beat, but Howell successfully made it to the line for a great try. Dorliac’s conversion gave Reading a 10-point lead with little more than10 minutes to go.

Witney are top-of-the-table on merit, though, and had no intention of admitting defeat.

Reading Chronicle:

They began to get some driving moves together and it took some good Reading defence to keep them out.

Eventually, however, with some good ball retention and driving play, the visitors scored a good try.

The conversion attempt was missed which meant they had to score another try in the last few minutes if they were to catch up.

This made for some nervous moments for the hosts before the referee’s whistle brought what was a great game in the circumstances to a close.

Former Reading club captain, Graham Lyke, summarised things well.

Reading Chronicle:

He stated: “Reading took the initiative from the start and played one of the most outstanding halves of rugby seen at Holme Park for many years.”

He also noted the home side did not concede a kickable penalty in the first half, leaving the first half pointless. This was to prove crucial to Reading’s success.

Reading Chronicle:

Overall, it was a great team performance, with every player fulfilling the role demanded by the coaching staff.

A word of praise, too, must go to referee Fraser Tod. He had an outstanding game in the conditions, allowing play to run where possible and maintaining good control.

Reading Chronicle: