Away side lost out to second-half tries – Reading Today Online

Sonning area signs.

In a game of two halves Reading dominated the first half but failed to capitalise whilst Witney made their second half superiority count with four unanswered tries.

Reading began well with Witney unable to contain their early pressure. A missed penalty from Bowers hit the upright and Murray-Smith gathered the rebound but was thwarted by quick Witney defence. A Murray-Smith kick though then gave Mose a chance to show his speed but he was also just thwarted.

Reading pressure told on the quarter hour mark when after successive scrum penalties number 8, Wills picked up from a scrum near the Witney line and passed to Murray-Smith who crashed over for a try which Bowers converted.

At this stage Witney could hardly get out of their half and when they did they were forced back by Bower’s long kicking. Reading continued to win a succession of penalties from scrums near the Witney line but could not make anything further of them due to good Witney defence and some poor decision making.

Around the half hour mark Reading suffered a double blow when a back injury forced off Wills who had been the pick of the forwards up to that point. Shortly after, Pallett was yellow carded for an offence at the breakdown.

This allowed Witney to come back into the game and with their first bit of genuine pressure they scored a fine try running a Reading kick back from deep and putting the ball through multiple hands to score an unconverted try in the corner to make the halftime score 5-7.

The Reading lead was short-lived once the second half began as after three minutes Witney, who had reorganised their scrum, pushed Reading back off their own ball and pounced on the ball to score in the corner.

Reading came back almost at once and after a clever kick from Murray-Smith Mose almost got over in the corner but a last-ditch tackle kept him out.

This was the signal for Reading to increase pressure and for a period they camped in the Witney 22. Bowers missed a penalty which would have levelled the score but this was the closest they came to scoring as they were unable to find their way over the Witney line.

Witney then came back into the game and were now showing more energy than Reading. Despite being reduced to 14 when one of their players was yellow carded for a high hit they worked the ball into the Reading 22 and from a short penalty where they initially appeared to have lost the ball they crossed for an unconverted try and a 15-7 lead.

Reading suffered another blow when Alex Lewis was yellow carded and from the resulting penalty Witney moved the ball wide to score a further unconverted try.

By now Reading seemed to have run out of attacking ideas whilst Witney became more ambitious as the game went on. In the last minute of the game, Reading did attempt to move the ball out of their own half but a dropped ball allowed the Witney full back to pick up and run through for a converted try to make the final score 27-7.

Reading Head Coach, Luke Harding, was left rueing the opportunities his side spurned in the first half which let Witney back into a game which they should never have been in. He wanted to see more clinical decisions in attack to capitalise on periods of pressure.

For the second week in a row Reading have looked to be in the game with a chance of winning only to be overcome by their inability to score and the experience of opponents who showed patience and ultimately showed Reading how to turn pressure into points.

In this difficult start to the season, Reading are away again next week at unbeaten Tottonians, where they lost heavily last season but who they defeated in the return fixture.

Tries: Murray-Smith

Conversion: Bowers

Reading RFC: Alec Dorliac; Vincent Mose, Alex Murray-Smith, Archie Wright, Tom David; Sam Bowers, Hayden Wheeler; Josh Pallett, Steve King, Josh Nichol (capt.); Joe Clarkson, Ryan Smith; Will Proctor-Searle, Alex Lewis, Ben Wills.

Replacements: Joe Dottson, Brandon Taplin. Max Pepper.

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