MAN-OF-THE-MATCH Jack Lambert Taylor’s two tries laid the foundations for a narrow 19-16 Southern Counties North victory for Reading Abbey at Stow-on-the-Wold.

However, the win came with an unwitting helping hand from Gloucestershire referee William Gilder.

The last play of the game was a penalty to Stow right in front of the posts. Trailing 19-13, they needed a converted try to win, and the question was whether they would take a scrum, tap and run, or go for a line-out and drive.

Stow spent a long time discussing the options among themselves and with the referee and then stunned spectators by choosing the kick at goal, taking the three points to concede the game, content with a losing bonus point, and to have narrowed their scoring differential.

As the players left the pitch it quickly became known they had taken the option as the referee told them an incorrect score at that time of 22-13, and they had needed nine points.

Despite Stow’s immediate post-match protestations, he stuck to that position, until he eventually corrected the official score sheet in the clubhouse afterwards.

With captain Will Bevan side-lined for up to 12 weeks following collar bone surgery, Lambert-Taylor switched from wing to scrum half, and it was he who gave Abbey a dream start after just four minutes. From an attacking scrum he took the ball, sold a dummy pass, and nipped over for his first try, converting it to make it 7-0.

The advantage swung momentarily to Stow following a penalty from full back Billy Maude and a try from wing James Holmes, winning the race to touch down following a kick and chase. Maude added the extras.

Soon, however, Lambert Taylor restored Abbey’s lead by taking his second converted try to give his side a 14-10 half-time lead.

The second period saw a more dominant scrummage from Abbey as changes were rung in the pack with George House, Martin Collier and Nick Bradfield taking their turn from the bench, but early after the restart Stow narrowed the score with a penalty from Maude.

The lead for Fungai Mutepfa's (pictured) men was quickly extended, though, with a try from wing Remi Norville, a potent threat on the occasions the ball was in his hands.

Despite having more possession Abbey could not find a way through the Stow defence, yet the Rosehill travelling support were content that the win would be theirs, with the game seemingly concluding with Stow under the cosh in their 22.

However, a failed kick for goal from the visitors saw Stow make the most of the drop-out, sweep upfield in a final flurry to win the penalty in front of the goal, and had the correct score line been given to them, the result might well have been different.

It must be said, though that Childer had first done both sides a greater service – he had stood in at half an hour’s notice from Painswick rugby club, as the appointed referee cried off, the switch delaying the start for 20 minutes.

Abbey next host Thatcham on December 9.