Towcestrians remain in control of the South West One East title race after a comfortable if at times nervy 28-16 victory away at Reading.
Perhaps showing the pressure of sitting top of the league, Tows struggled against a Reading side fighting relegation, although at times it was difficult to tell who was where in the league, and it took the experience and influence of veteran back rower Liam Wilkinson and returning replacement Dave Stocks to show the young Tows team just what was required to win ugly.
In a poor display from the usually flowing Towcestrians, Wilkinsons tough tackling and ball carrying gave the team the lift they needed and Stocks used his opportunism and edge to see the Tows secure a bonus-point in a game in which Reading threw everything at the table-toppers.
The result maintains Towcester’s 13-point lead back to second-placed Salisbury.
Tows started brightly with winger Alex Chalcraft crossing for the first try, James Falvey adding the extras, but after going close on several occasions, Tows sat back and invited pressure from the hosts.
A penalty followed by a converted try from the Reading lifted the crowd and saw them into the lead before Tows regained some control when scrum half Murray Aitchison darted over from the 22 following a series of forward drives for a 14-10 half-time lead.
A roasting from the Tows coaching team at the break seemed to have the desired effect with Tows running the ball strongly, Wilkinson to the fore, however Tows’ poor discipline continued and penalties allowed Reading to regain the lead with two out of three successful attempts at goal
With Tows trailing, a change was needed and Stocks came on at scrum half with Aitchison moving to the centre, and Stocks soon showed his awareness, running a penalty to score.
And straight from the kick-off, Tows ran the ball back, Ben Roe broke the line and found the much faster Chalcraft on the outside to score his second, Falvey converting the bonus point try to complete a hard-fought win.
Wilkinson’s recent performances could be down to his improved fitness as he prepares for this year’s London Marathon, the Tows backrower will be running with Towcestrians clubmate Richard Carter and two more friends for the charity Action on Pre-eclampsia.
For more information and if you would like to support the boys in their quest to raise £8,000, please follow this link www.justgiving.com/richardcarter17.
On Saturday the 1st XV are in Alliance Cup action and face Daventry at home, 2:15pm Kick-off.
Towcestrians IIs slipped to only their second defeat of the season, going down at home 31-12 to Hinckley and the IIIs narrowly beat Long Buckby 2nd XV away 17-12, while Tows Colts were also victorious, winning 22-5 away at Olney.