A DEPLETED Reading Under 18 girls team were knocked out of the National Cup at the semi-final stage on Sunday.

With the competition being split into six areas, the southern section semi-final was a three-way affair with the sides playing each other in 17-minute long matches and the side which won both their games progressing to the final.

Reading started well by beating Somerset-based Winscombe 26-12.

Scores from Ellie Armstrong and Cerys High-Milam put Reading 12-7 in front at the break, and Alice Lawrence and Armstrong crossed in the second half to fire their side to victory after Winscombe had levelled matters.

However, after a short turnaround, Reading could not repeat their heroics and were beaten 21-12 by eventual winners Pulborough.

The Sussex club raced into a 21-0 lead, and despite tries from High-Milam and Jess Sutherland, Reading could not pull off the comeback.

Pulborough beat Winscombe 12-0 in the last game to ensure they progressed.

Coach Ben Wills was still proud of his side and said: “It was always going to be a big challenge beating two area champions consecutively in one day and sadly we did not manage to come away with the result we wanted.

"That being said, all I asked from the girls was that they went out and played as well I know they can, and they exceeded my expectations.

"Every single player was excellent on the day and I was very proud of the performance they produced.

"Credit to Pulborough as they scored three very good tries, but I still believe our girls are the best team in the country and were very unlucky not to make it to the final.”