STOW-on-the-Wold Rugby Club continued their improved run with a 14-5 win at lowly Alchester in Southern Counties North.

On a cold afternoon with a north wind blowing, Stow always looked the likely winners but found it difficult to subdue a determined home side.

After a five-minute opening spell from kick-off when both sides came close to scoring tries, the ball was eventually kicked into touch.

From the line-out, Alchester attacked and Stow were penalised twice for offside. The hosts elected to run the penalties but the defence held firm.

Then Ben Ullmer won a 15th-minute line-out, Alex Kelly jinked his way past three defenders and fed James Holmes, who ran under the posts for Nick Cafearo to convert.

Cafearo failed with a penalty after more pressure but Stow dominated.

On 25 minutes, more quick possession resulted in space for Holmes to beat two defenders wide out on the left.

Cafearo converted to put the visitors 14 points ahead and the last 15 minutes of the half became scrappy with stoppages and no additions to the score.

Alchester started the second period well and, after seven minutes on the Stow line, scored through a catch-and-drive, which was not converted.

The Oxfordshire side continued to attack but could not break down the strong Stow defence.

A penalty on their own line relieved the pressure and the Cotswold outfit should then have scored at the other end.

Several stoppages and an injury to Holmes resulted in a disjointed second-half, which lasted 55 minutes, and Stow were unable to increase their lead.

After two yellow cards, with one for each side, Stow ran out winners but could not repeat their recent try-scoring form.

The fourth-placed side host Aylesbury, who are one position above them, on Saturday.

Chipping Norton lost 45-7 at home to Reading Abbey, who kept up their 100 per cent record at the top of the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Premier Division. Chippy visit Slough on Saturday.