FUNGAI Mutepfa has warned his Reading Abbey players that form goes out the window when they visit Reading for a Southern Counties North derby this coming Saturday (3pm), writes Richard Ashton.

The Rose Hill side recorded a third straight bonus-point win on Saturday as they toppled visitors High Wycombe 32-19 to climb to fourth in the table, 10 points and five places above their rivals.

However, with the memory of last year’s defeat in his mind, Mutepfa told the Chronicle: “You basically write off anything which has happened before because Reading will raise their game for us and hopefully we will raise our game for them in the right way.

“It’s away from home so in a way the pressure is on them. I thought we should have won the game at their place last year, but we gave it away at the end. Reading against Abbey games are an 80-minute battle and the one whose prepared to play for the full 80 minutes will be the ones who win.

“We’ll be bang up for it.”

They go into the clash with momentum building following last Saturday’s victory, albeit in a game Mutepfa admitted they were not at their best in.

Abbey began brightly and opened the scoring when Mike Beckley charged down a kick and Gavin Dampies hoovered the ball up before dotting down from close range.

High Wycombe hit back, though, and as the hosts’ discipline waned, an intercept try by prop Rob Johnson – who showed a good turn of pace to run in from 35 metres out – and an unconverted score from Charlie Edwards meant the away side led 12-7 at the interval.

Despite starting the second half with only 14 men following Tom Burns’ yellow card for Abbey repeatedly going offside, it was the hosts who scored first.

Dampies and Richard King combined efficiently to create space for the former to scorch clear and level matters, Diego de Marcilla Bahlsen’s conversion nudging his side in front.

As the Abbey pack gradually took a hold on proceedings, flanker Ed House was able to grab a brace of tries, and with de Marcilla Bahlsen also crossing, Abbey led 29-12.

Full back Andy Eaton scored a third try for Wycombe, but a late penalty from de Marcilla Bahlsen ensured the visitors did not secure a bonus point.

Mutepfa admitted: “I don’t think we played particularly well or to to our full potential, but we took our chances when they were there.

“High Wycombe were very competitive and it wasn’t as easy as the scoreline suggests.

“We got five points and that’s the most important thing.”

The head coach admitted he was frustrated with Abbey during the second half of the opening 40 minutes, but pleased with how they responded.

He confessed: “We told the guys at half time we weren’t giving ourselves a chance to play because of the ill-discipline we had. The penalties we were committing allowed them to get more and more into the game, we were giving them free territory.

“We want to play running rugby with the ball in hand, but sometimes you don’t get given that chance to play it.

“If teams are organised in defence sometimes you will have to play a little more territory, but when we have the chance we will run it. That’s the kind of style I want, and especially while the weather’s like this you want to take the opportunity.”

After the Reading derby this weekend, Abbey host second-placed Beaconsfield, and Mutepfa said: “We’ve got some tough games coming up, but it’s starting to click. It’s a new side and we’ve got a lot of young players who don’t have the baggage from last year’s relegation.

“Those who were here want to atone for what happened. I still think there’s a long way to go to reach our full potential, which is encouraging as we’re winning games.”