Despite a hat-trick of tries from Matt Wardle, High Wycombe slipped to their first defeat in four games away at Reading, losing 38-30 in the Southern Counties North Division.

Wycombe began well going 10-0 ahead thanks to Wardle's boot and an excellent Joff Forber try. Reading hit back to make it 14-10 but the away team hit back after stealing a Reading lineout. A strong carry from Ollie Fennell-Wells took play close to the Reading line. With the defence scrambling back, Wardle spotted a gap and had the strength to score, 14-15. Just before half time Wycombe were penalised for being offside but with the kick missed the away team went into half time with a one point advantage.

From the kick-off in the second half, Reading started the stronger of the two sides.

Wycombe were penalised at the ruck and the home team took the scrum. From the scrum the Reading number eight picked up and carried over the line to score 21-15. Wycombe showed good character to hit back once again and from several Reading infringements set up a lineout close to the try-line.

With the lineout secured, Wycombe carried hard and inched their way towards the line. With the ball fed out to the backs, Wardle ran hard and went over to score 21-20. Once again Reading extended their lead when from a solid scrum their number eight once again went over to score 28-20. Wycombe’s cause wasn’t helped when Tom Catchpole received a yellow card and from a scrum Reading scored again when a missed tackle allowed their centre to cross the line 35-20. It was Reading’s turn to be on the wrong side of the referee’s whistle and two yellow cards in quick succession saw them down to 13 men.

Wycombe took advantage of this and upped the tempo which resulted in Wardle scoring his third try and Wycombe’s fourth 35-25. With only minutes to go Reading were awarded a penalty which they kicked to take the score out to 38-25. To their credit Wycombe never gave up and in the last play of the game some good continuity enabled Tom Bosley to go over and score. Unfortunately, Wardle’s difficult conversion hit the post to deny Wycombe another bonus point,

Overall a disappointing performance with Reading deserving their victory and they were clearly up for the game. Wycombe did well to keep in touch and were unlucky not to get two points but must cut out the errors if they are going to get back to winning ways.

Wycombe entertain Reading Abbey on Saturday (2pm).