STOW-on-the-Wold earned a losing bonus point from an improve display in Saturday’s 19-16 home defeat to Reading Abbey.

A young forward line held its own but Reading scored first when the ball was quickly shifted from the scrum out to the left to cross the whitewash. The difficult conversion was added.

Stow immediately hit back with a Billy Maude penalty and remained very much in the game, competing on all fronts until the defence sprang a disappointing leak to let the visitors in for another converted try under the posts.

Undeterred, the hosts pushed on once more with a well-executed break from centre field saw Bradley Wrench rip through then cleverly chip the ball behind the Abbey defence for James Holmes to pounce. Maude converted to make it 10-14 at the break.

A second Billy Maude penalty took Stow to within one point in the second half but Abbey countered with an unconverted try in the corner.

Stow upped the ante and took control of the last 10 minutes of the game but could only add a 15-metre penalty from Dan Adams.