LEADERS Stow-on-the-Wold produced their most unconvincing display of the season but still won 34-6 at Harwell.
They top the Berks/Bucks and Oxon Premier Division by eight points from Cotswold rivals Chipping Norton who thrashed Aylesbury Athletic 72-17.
Stow struggled to gain momentum as countless handling errors and penalties gave away possession and were grateful to James Holmes’ hat-trick of tries.
It took 15 minutes before the first score when a quick penalty was run with Andrew Piercey gaining valuable ground and offloading for Craig Chapman to score under the posts. Nick Cafearo converted.
From the restart, the visitors fumbled a Harwell scrum in the Stow 22 which led to a successful penalty.
Stow replied with an unconverted try when a midfield break by Piercey led to Holmes racing in.
Just before the break, they won a scrum against the head and Chapman picked up at number eight to drive over for five points.
Harwell hit back with a second penalty for hands in the ruck.
The second-half proved more frustrating as two potential tries went begging when the ball was dropped over the line.
But the bonus-point try came from Holmes who took the ball in the centres and crashed through several tackles.
Alex Kelly raced from inside his own half, beating several defenders on the way to touch down under the posts and Cafearo then converted.
The final try came from the restart as the forwards took the ball blind and Holmes again outpaced the defence to score.
Meanwhile, Chippy’s 12th win in a row saw them reply after an early penalty to forge 36-10 ahead at halftime.
Brad Warner starred in the scrums in the second period as the forwards impressed throughout, while Aylesbury could not cope with the running of Sam Townsend and Steve Corley.
Matty King went over at the back of a scrum for his second try of the game and Barry Nutt completed the scoring with the subsequent conversion.
Stow entertain Hungerford on Saturday (2.30pm), while Chippy head to Bicester.