READING slumped to a 41-5 defeat to Beaconsfield in their first home game of the Southern Counties North season on Saturday.

The visitors took full advantage of winning the lion’s share of possession and some sloppy defensive work by Reading, who put out a much-changed pack of forwards.

They were also without their influential captain Charlie Davies and Rob Cunningham, their best forward so far this year, and suffered the loss of Rob Sweeney in the first 10 minutes with a fractured cheekbone.

Beaconsfield had the more dominant scrum and won their fair share of Reading’s line-out ball and as a result the home side’s back line was increasingly starved of possession. What ball they did win they often wasted with inaccurate passing, often attempting the long pass which was not suited to the windy conditions.

Beaconsfield, who went to the top of the league with this result, were much more accurate and efficient in their back play, playing an intelligent game that made full use of their speedy wings. By contrast, Reading’s defensive play was a long way off the standard they have achieved so far this season and they fell off some important tackles and failed to cope with the patterns that the increasingly confident opposing backline ran.

Beaconsfield scored three good tries in the first half – all of them after good back moves and from some distance out. One of these was converted.

Reading’s only response was a fine individual effort from Chris Greig, who retrieved his own kick to race in at the corner, making the half-time score 17-5 to the away side.

Beaconsfield soon gained their try bonus point from another good back move just after the break. Reading did not give up and gamely tried to stay in the game, but the visiting pack became increasingly dominant and Reading’s handling errors continued to frustrate what little ball they won.

Beaconsfield were able to turn their pressure into points and added another three tries during the half, two of which were converted.

Reading's Grant Spears showed up well in the unaccustomed position of No. 8 and substitute Alex Murray-Smith played confidently late on in his first appearance of the season, but overall the team will be looking for a big improvement in next Saturday’s fixture at unbeaten Stow in the Wold.

Ben Wills, Reading’s head coach, was disappointed his side had not given a good account of themselves, especially in defence which so far this season had been their strength.

However, he gave credit to a good quality Beaconsfield team who were able to take full advantage.