Abbey won the contest by six tries to one, but know they can play better than they did on Saturday.

With rivals Swindon College Old Boys having a rest day, Abbey took full advanatge by claiming a bonus-point victory.

The race for the title now looks set to be decided when the two sides meet at Swindon on February 28.

Abbey’s team had just one minor change as Ollie Charlton started as prop, with Luke Daniels on the bench.

But the performance was far less dominant. Players muttered about poor turnout at training, too many having late night beers over the England versus Wales Six Nations game. They also blamed a heavy sticky pitch, cold hands and a slippery ball, but that did not do justice to Wheatley who were the quickest side Abbey had faced.

They had speed to chase down attacks and any loose ball and their strong forwards held their own in the scrums, though Abbey cleaned up the line-outs.

Wheatley started on the front foot and scored an unconverted try through flanker Barney Carter two minutes in.

It was the first time this season Abbey had conceded the first try, and they were soon 8–0 down when Seb Wilson notched a penalty soon after in what turned out to be their last score of the match.

Abbey, though, bounced back, with Aaron Ross sending Joe Hallett over for their opening touchdown.

Then winger Tom Handley forced Wheatley to concede a penalty in front of their posts which was accepted.

Fellow winger Steve Warwick was next to cross the whitewash as Abbey‘s play improved.

And with full back Tom Waterhouse kicking all available 10 points, Abbey went in 20–8 up at the turnaround.

The introduction of replacement prop Luke Daniels gave Abbey’s scrum more stability and they began to pull away from the hosts thanks to scores from centre Dylan Baptista and Charlton.

Second row man Dan Pawlett and scrum half Will Bevan finished the try scoring, with Waterhouse adding the extras to the last try.

Joe Hallett was named Abbey’s man-of-the-match, and Warwick’s strong runs were a real threat on the day.

Abbey are without a fixture this weekend.

Abbey: Postlethwaite, Collier, Charlton, S.Hallett (c), Pawlett, J.Hallett, Shaw, Beckly, Bevan, Bird, Handley, Ross, Baptista, Warwick, Waterhouse, reps ; all used Daniels, House, Fungai.

Referee: Simon Blake (Oxfordshire).

l BERKSHIRE Shire Hall went down 8–7 at title-chasing Risborough in the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Championship on Saturday.

Shire Hall were heavily beaten 40–5 at home by second-placed Risborough earlier in the season.

But this time they put up a much better fight before losing by the narrowest of margins to claim a bonus point.

Conditions on the day were tough for both sides as the pitch only passed a late inspection by the match officials.

Shire Hall got off to the perfect start when an illegal high tackle just short of the Risborough line resulted in a converted penalty try after nine minutes.

But Risborough replied with a Damon Reading touchdown and a Rowan Packer penalty to secure the win, despite seeing Ben Kidby sinbinned.

Shire Hall are without a fixture this coming weekend.