Reading RFC came off second best in a closely fought game against old rivals Salisbury.
In a game where both teams had periods of domination Reading had plenty of territory and possession but failed to make the most of it whilst Salisbury were just that little bit better at taking advantage of their opportunities.
Reading began badly and conceded a try from the first move of the game when as a result of some good phase play and some weak Reading tackling, Salisbury worked an overlap in the corner. The try was not converted.
Reading came back well from this early set back and were camped in Salisbury’s half for most of the next 15 minutes. They began to dominate the scrums and won a number of scrum penalties.
Eventually the referee sin-binned one of the Salisbury forwards. Reading took advantage and moved the ball back and forth until Salisbury ran out of cover and Murray Smith scored near the posts for Sharp to convert.
Reading’s lead was short lived however as Salisbury immediately scored running the ball back from the kick off in a series of breaks until their scrum half crossed from a ruck near the line for an unconverted try.
Salisbury now began to attack more, taking advantage of Reading’s line out which continues to be a problem area.
From a Reading line out Salisbury won possession and moved the ball to the right where a clever kick from their outside half was caught by their wing who moved the ball inside for a well worked try which was converted from the touch line. This gave them a 10 point lead.
Reading then moved back into the ascendancy and after a series of scrum penalties worked a position near the line from where Wheeler, the Reading scrum half, eluded the defence on the blindside to score an unconverted try to make the half-time score 12-17 in Salisbury’s favour.
Reading continued their attacks at the beginning of the second half but despite being on the Salisbury line for five minutes they could not find their way over.
Salisbury then showed them how to do it moving up the pitch after several penalties and driving over in the corner for an unconverted try to make the score 12-22.
Reading reacted well and once again had a period when they were better in terms of territory and possession, but were unable to take advantage until Proctor-Searle took a quick penalty and taking the Salisbury defence by surprise forced his way over for a try which Sharp converted to reduce the
Salisbury lead to three points.
However, this was a close as Reading came. Despite their opponents being reduced to 13 men by yellow cards for 10 minutes they could not drive home their advantage. And despite winning a series of penalties to prolong the game, a forward pass finally put a stop to their efforts.
For Reading the front row of Nichol, King and Pallett were the basis for Reading’s dominant scrum performance and back row forward Alex Rowe impressed in the loose on his debut.
Overall, though, this was a disappointing result to a game that Reading certainly had enough possession and territory to win.
Although dominant in the scrums problems in the lineout meant they were unable to control possession from this phase which in turn limited their attacking options. Lapses in concentration in defence which allowed Salisbury to score three of their tries cost them dearly in the final analysis.
Reading play London Irish Wild Geese on Saturday at home.
Tries: Murray-Smith, Wheeler, Proctor-Searle
Conversions: Sharp (2)
Reading RFC: Alex Dorliac; Ben Mitchell, Archie Wright, Alex Murray-Smith, Charlie Attard; Tom Sharp, Hayden Wheeler; Josh Pallett, Steve King, Josh Nichol (capt.); Ben Wills, Ryan Smith; Will Proctor-Searle, Alex Rowe, Max Pepper.
Replacements:, , Joe Clarkson, Brandon Taplin, Sean Bailey.