SOUTHERN Counties North leaders Witney ended their blip with a hard-fought 14-8 home victory over Reading Abbey.

Injuries and unavailability meant the hosts fielded an inexperienced XV, with eight players aged 21 or under.

They would have feared a tough afternoon when visiting No 8 Mike Beckly crossed after six minutes, but Witney stuck to the task.

It took until the 39th minute for them to make the breakthrough, Callum Godfrey charging through and Matt Clarke converting to put the home side 7-5 up.

A penalty for Reading Abbey forced Witney to dig deep and with ten minutes left they got their reward.

Rhys Morgan received the ball after some neat passing and he ran in under the posts, Clarke again adding the two points.

Elsewhere, Bicester lost 27-17 to visitors Marlow in an exciting contest.

Stuart Jordan crossed to give the away side the lead after seven minutes, but the hosts hit back with tries from Christian Mann and Marcus Kendall, Dan Walker converting the former.

Marlow scored two more tries before the break, Stuart Silvester and Jack Ryder touching down, Christian Witney converting the latter to give Marlow a 17-12 lead.

Nick Gorham touched down five minutes after the restart, but Josh Wordsworth’s try hauled Bicester back into it.

But they were undone again five minutes from time, when Jordan crossed again.

Wallingford lost 16-14 at home to Stow-on-the-Wold, while Didcot were beaten 17-12 at Shipston-on-Stour.

Grove’s Southern Counties South clash with Swindon was called off.

In the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Premier, Gosford All Blacks and Chipping Norton’s top-of-the-table fixture ended 16-16.

The result means the All Blacks remain three points ahead of their Oxfordshire rivals at the summit.

Elsewhere, fifth-placed Wheatley thrashed Drifters 85-0 in the only other game to beat the weather.