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Home > News > Witney 5 - Reading 18
Your News Witney 5 - Reading 18

In days gone by, the lads could under perform and often get away with it, in

this League that is simply not an option and a much hungrier Reading side came

away with the spoils against a somewhat lethargic Witney side that lacked a

spark. The boys were firing individually ok but collectively they looked a

shadow of the team that has started so well this campaign. Sure there were

injuries and unavailability to cope with but every side has that and so it is

never a valid excuse. It would be great to say the scoreline didn€™t reflect the

match but in truth it probably did as Reading looked more lively with ball in

hand and were committed in defence as they were hungry to come away with their

first win of the season, which they dually did.

The match kicked off on a cold but sunny Saturday afternoon at the Hailey Road

Ground and the expectant Hailey Road supporters were hoping for another top

drawer performance from the boys in blue and black. They were soon stunned as

Reading won the ball from the kick off and charged upfield with forwards and

backs inter passing well and their no 10 finding a few gaps, something he

continued to do all afternoon. The first wave was stopped but Reading came again

and crashed over out wide to give them the best possible start and stun the home

side. The conversion was missed and the visitors tails were up but the question

was, how would Witney react ? The answer was a tad slowly to be honest as they

tried hard but kept giving stupid penalties away which kept the momentum well

and truly in Readings hands. A few of the penalties were questionable but

generally you make your own luck and Reading carried on looking the side most

likely. A penalty was kicked to increase the lead to 8 points and although

neither side really threatened in their opponents 22, with the wind behind them

Reading probably thought they needed another score before halftime as Witney

were sure to improve, weren€™t they?

Robbie Richardson and Jez Hicks were battling away and making ground but the

pack was not quite firing collectively and although the were on top in the

scrums, the lineouts were very messy and a cause for concern against the tall

visitors. The backs lacked spark and line breaks were few and far between. Scrum

half Gareth Campbell made one superb break but the real chance came when young

Jake Thomas exploited a rare hole in the Reading defence and ran 40 metres deep

into the Reading 22. Support was there but the Reading defence was solid and the

chance was gone. The half petered out and although they had been far from their

best, Witney were only 8 points down and with the wind behind them, the match

was still very much in the balance. Readings dream start to the match was

repeated though as a speculative kick downfield was not fielded by the Witney

back three and the cruel bounce of the ball saw Reading regather possession and

a couple of phases later and the rangy winger was over for their second try and

it really was all to do for Witney. The home forwards finally began firing with

Owen Fowler and Marc Copperwheat (before he was injured) making good ground but

the penalties were still being conceded and this allowed Reading an easy escape

route just when pressure began to build. Copporwheats injury opened the door for

Will MacBurnie to come on and he produced a lively half hour as Witney slowly

edged towards Readings line. Aaron Lambourne had a couple of nice runs to lift

the home crowd who sensed a comeback was still possible. The forwards won a

lineout five metres out and from the resulting catch and drive, hooker Sam

Collins emerged at the bottom of the pile. Ed Mitcham€™s conversion would have

brought Witney to within a score but he never really struck the kick well (his

only kick of the match!) and the deficit remained at 8 points.

A rousing last five minutes was needed but a hopeful kick upfield saw the ball

curl agonisingly over the touchline close to Witneys line and it seemed it

really would be Readings day. They pressed the line and Witney prop Alan Richens

was yellow carded, perhaps unluckily so but it was probably a result of the huge

penalty count against the home side. The five metre scrum seemed like a score

would be inevitable but Witney defended well and kept the visitors out. The

pressure was still very much on Witney though and Reading made their numerical

advantage tell and scored out wide. They missed their conversion but were home

and dry and the last few minutes were played out with Witney waiting for the

inevitable final whistle and their opening defeat of the season.

1st XV

Mitcham, Lambourne, Thomas, Strutt, Monks, Lamb(H), Campbell(G): Richardson,

Collins(S), Richens, Fowler, Copperwheat(M), *Hicks(J), Campbell(C), Rowles

Repl: Fuller(Richardson-55), MacBurnie(Copperwheat-50), Collins(L)-not used


Well, it couldn€™t last for ever but the defeat was disappointing as the lads

never really €œturned up€ rather than the loss itself. The visitors were much

more determined all afternoon and in their number 10 had the stand out player,

not perfect in everything he did but often threatened with ball in hand and

asked too many questions of the home defense for comfort. The penalty count was

definitely one way but Witney had got on the wrong side of the referee early on

and that pattern kept on throughout the match. The biggest cheer of the first

half came when Witney were eventually awarded a penalty after numerous for the

visitors. Hopefully the lads will learn from this by putting the work back into

training this week and coming out €œhungry€ for next weeks away fixture at

Reading Abbey.

When sending me his excellent photos, Fin€™s comment was, €œHard to find any shots

of Witney on the front foot and/or any without Pin tackling somebody...€œ, which

says it all really !

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