Portsmouth Valkyries keep pressure on leaders with win at ReadingÂ
Portsmouth ValkyriesÂ kept up the pressure at the top of the National Championship south east west division oneÂ with aÂ 27-3 victory at Reading Ladies.
The second-placed Valkyries remain hot on the heels of leaders London Welsh with a game in hand.
Although the scoreline suggests the visitors ran out easy winners,Â Mark Witcher admitted his team had to work to claim the spoils.
And the senior coach was delighted with the application PortsmouthÂ displayed in Berkshire.Â
He said: '˜It was a tough game against good opposition.
'˜Reading have a big,Â strong, packedÂ runners outside. It was a real test for us but we came through it well.
'˜Our forwards faced a big, physical challenge and stood up to it.
'˜This keeps our winning run going and the girls deserved it because they are working ever so hard.
'˜We had more thanÂ 30 girls at training during the week.
'˜Although it is going well we are determined not to rest on our laurels.
'˜It looks like it is going to be us and London Welsh vying for the title.'
Portsmouth made an excellent start, scoring a converted try inside the opening five minutes.
Following some good phase play, number-eight Sophie Rosaman went over for the try.
Reading hit back with a penalty and the game thenÂ developed into a close-foughtÂ contest.
Rosaman was prominent with some excellent carries andÂ added a second try to extend the visitors lead, however.Â
Outside-half Suzanne Holbrook also had an influential game as the Valkyries pushed to stretchÂ their advantage.
They managed to do so, withÂ centre Bronwyn Jacobs securingÂ a third try.
Fellow centre Georgie Outhwaite cut some sharp lines of running and was also rewarded with a try.
For a spell,Â Reading put the visitors under sustained pressure but their defence held firmÂ to repelÂ the Berkshire outfit.
In the final few minutesÂ winger Rachel Kidner scored Portsmouth's final try in the corner.
The Valkyries are entering an important period between now and Christmas.
The development squad are in action against Winchester Ladies next weekend.Â
Seven days later the senior team travel to face Rosslyn Park Ladies.
In the final game before Christmas they visit Lewes in the RFU Intermediate Cup.
Witcher believes the trip to Sussex will be a barometer to see where the Valkyries are.
'˜Lewes play one league higher so it will be an opportunity to see how far we have come,' added the senior coach.Â