Aylesbury head coach Dave Larham admitted the opposition were “of a higher standard” after his side’s 24-14 home defeat to Reading Abbey at Ostler’s Field on Saturday.
This was a contest between first and second coming into the game but Reading’s victory takes them clear at the top having played a game less than their rivals, while Aylesbury have slipped down to fifth.
Larham said post match: “We played against a very well organised team who had just a bit more when it counted. All the players and management were fully aware of the potential importance of the game, but unfortunately we didn’t do enough in the first half against the strong wind.
“In terms of performance, I think we raised the bar from the last game but the opposition, on this display, were of a higher standard.
“Several players put in a good shift, but I’d have to mention teenager Matt Dennis for his fearless tackling and excellent finish for our second try.
“We now have a week off and there are several players that need to rest injuries ahead of our visit to Stow.”
Playing into the wind first half, Aylesbury found themselves under pressure from the off and were soon to concede an early penalty, allowing the Abbey fly-half to kick the visitors into an early 3-0 lead.
But it was not long before the home supporters were cheering as the Aylesbury forwards drove the ball upfield and scrum half Adam Moore to made a break that saw him score under the posts.
James Woodfall added the conversion which put the Ducks 7-3 ahead, however their joy was short-lived as Abbey responded quickly with a converted try of their own.
Before the half was over, Reading increased their advantage to 16-7 thanks to two successful penalties, all despite being a man down after their second row was sin-binned for hands in the ruck.
Aylesbury then switched around and had the win behind them after the break but it was Reading who were next to score with an unconverted try that took their lead to 21-7.
As the game moved into the final quarter, Aylesbury began to put the visitors under pressure and forced them to defend in their own half.
The home side were eventually rewarded when young Matt Dennis finished off an excellent backs move to score in the corner. Woodfall added the extra two points with a skilfully judged touch line conversion to narrow the score to seven points and a possible losing bonus-point
But as the seconds ticked away, Ay’s conceded another penalty and with the final play of the game, the Abbey fly-half put the ball between the uprights to deny Ay’s not only the game but also a bonus-point.
With both sides scoring two tries apiece, it was Aylesbury’s indiscipline at the break down in their own half, which allowed Abbey to add 12 points via the boot of their number 10, that ultimately made the difference.