STOW-ON-THE-WOLD leapt to the top of Southern Counties North with a 60-15 away hammering of Milton Keynes.

But there was no sign of the thrashing ahead after a tough first-half for the Cotswold side.

The match turned into a tale of two Chapmans through brothers Craig and Lewis.

Stow played down the slope in the first period but against the wind and struggled to retain possession.

Play was disjointed but Milton Keynes showed pace after five minutes to score an unconverted try in the corner.

Stow hit back with quick hands giving James Holmes room to beat two defenders and score another unconverted effort.

The visitors began to settle but Holmes had to go off with a neck injury, disrupting the balance of their backs.

Forward play became the order of the day and, after five minutes of pressure, Stow went ahead with a Craig Chapman try converted by Ed Hampshire.

The hosts hit back through their quick scrum-half, who combined well with the number eight to score under the posts but the conversion was missed.

Milton Keynes added another unconverted try on 35 minutes with Stow’s tackling lacking.

On half-time, the Stow pack took a ball against the head and a clever kick through saw Bradley Wrench score in the corner to give them a 17-15 lead.

Stow might not have received too many compliments from their coach at the break and came out much more determined.

They scored two good forwards tries in the first eight minutes of the half through each Chapman brother. Injuries continued with Ben Ullmer and the home scrum-half and number eight all sidelined.

Stow’s forwards led the way with Dan Savage bagging a fine try and Craig Chapman completing his hat-trick to make the score 46-15.

The backs, with Alex Kelly at fly-half, combined well with the forwards, creating a good Andrew Piercy effort and an even better try by Chris Powlesland, which were both converted.

Stow, who host mid-table Royal Wootton Bassett on Saturday (2.15pm), are level on points with Aylesbury at the top.

Meanwhile, Shipston-on-Stour suffered their first Midlands Three West (South) home defeat of the season, going down 20-12 to leaders Woodrush.

Mid-table Shipston visit lowly Southam on Saturday.