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Blues have to grind out the points

Strugglers keep derby rivals on the back foot for long spells

Malcolm Howe

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Malcolm Howe

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Blues have to grind out the points

Ryan Davis - took a punch

Newbury Blues 23 Reading 8

BLUES ground their way though the mud to score a derby win that was probably the best thing to say about a dour battle at Monks Lane.

Bottom of the table Reading looked like being hammered into their place as Blues took a 16-0 lead in as many minutes, but the visitors girded up their shorts and responded with a battling show that had the home side on the back foot for long periods.

Reading looked shaky in those early minutes and Nick Wackwitz kicked three out of four penalties before Josh Winfield split the Reading ranks to send in Josh Bartlett for a try converted by the Kiwi fly half.

But Bartlett was soon called upon to make two saving tackles as Reading upped their game around the fringes, and they eventually forced open the home defence for Peter Czernuszka to touch down and proceeded to have the better of the rest of the half, that ended with Ray Mead putting over a penalty.

The second half grew increasingly scrappy, but Reading were busied by burrowing into the Newbury defence that had to hold out until midway through the half when replacement Alex Millar wrestled his way to the line with Wackwitz converting.

But any hopes of going on to pot a bonus point were scotched as Reading looked more likely to earn something extra until the closing stages, when they had second row Sean Keneally red-carded for aiming a punch at Blues’ Ryan Davis, and Blues closed out time for a win that keeps them third in South West One East, still nine points adrift of leaders Old Patesians and Maidenhead, but now with a 12 point advantage over the teams beneath them, headed by Royal Wootton Bassett, where Blues travel next Saturday.

Newbury Blues: Carlisle; Walker, Bartlett, Love, Futcher; Wackwitz, Pigott; G. Stewart, Drysdale, Macauley; Bastable, Winfield; Spanswick, D. Stewart, Davis. Subs: Robinson-Slater, Millar, Hicks.

Reading: Gomez; Mitchell, Walks, Dorleac, Greig; Borthwick, Mead; Nicol, Watson, King; Cunngham, Keneally; Czernuszka, Titley, Davies. Subs: Grierson, Hegarty, Willis.

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