Bedford Athletic broke the 100 points barrier as they defeated Hertford by 101 points to 21. In a match that was a personal triumph for Steve Smith he led the way scoring a hat trick of tries to take him to 50 tries for the first XV in his 100th appearance in a man of the match performance.
An early penalty was kicked 40 yards to the Hertford five metre line by Leo Mortimer from where the forwards set up a series of drives on the visitor’s line, Jake Foster eventually crossing for the try. Minutes later scrum half Michael Trigg found a gap in the defence and linked up well with Smith, staying in support to receive the scoring pass for the second try. The third attack of the day produced the third try. Josh Cassell intercepted the ball in his own half and broke for 50 metres before being halted by a scrambling defence. Play was switched quickly to the other wing where full back Oli Petrides glided past the cover for the third score. Bedford Athletic could have had the try bonus point before the twenty minute mark but their fourth attack was stopped short of the line with Hertford winning a penalty for holding onto the ball. Two further chances went begging with misplaced passes and knock ons being the culprits. The Bedford Athletic set piece was now firmly in the ascendancy and the bonus point try did arrive before the half hour mark. Another home attack gathered momentum but Hertford seemed to have done enough in defence before Mortimer straightened up the attack to cut through for the try. A fifth try arrived when Foster won a turnover to set in motion the counter attack that ended with Steve Smith dummying the visiting full back to cross for the score. The Taylor brothers then linked well in a break through the midfield with Ryan and Robbie creating the space for Smith to score his second try. In the final move of the half sublime timing from that man Smith again exploited the faintest hole in the visiting defence to send wing Cassell through the gap and he crossed for the seventh try on the stroke of half time. Leo Mortimer nailed all seven first half conversions for a 49-0 lead.
Hertford won a penalty for a high tackle in the opening stages of the second half and this gave them momentum to push to the home line. Eventually they opened up the defence for full back Harry Holman to score. The home full back responded in scintillating fashion bursting clear down the right wing to race clear of the defenceand under the posts, Oli Petrides scoring his second try of the day. There was no let up in momentum from the home side as they continued to break tackles, punch holes and steal possession from their visitors. Smith completed his hat trick in the 51st minute and this was just the precursor to Stephen Woodhead and Harry Sawford-Smith adding tries to put the side 75-7 ahead on the hour mark, Mortimer adding three further conversions. Smith showed his intelligence as well as his skill by punting the ball deep for a 50:22 kick and an attacking lineout and with the Hertford defence showing no real appetite for getting back to defend, a quick lineout sawWoodhead add his second try. Sawford-Smith then added his second literally barging Holman out of the way as he ran through before he and Mortimer got into a silly mix up with a clear try being lost as Mortimer got tackled and the ball held up over the line when it would have been easier to score. No.8 Steffan Jones had pulled a try back for the visitors in the 69th minute but Woodhead completed his hat trick in the 75th minute before Sawford-Smith made amends by completing a hat trick of his own. Mortimer kicked 13 conversions to go with his try for a personal record haul of 31 points the final one of these bringing up the 100 point mark. Visiting scrum half David Hale did grab the final try of the day and fly half Liam Batty did slot all three conversions but to no avail for the visitors.
The win was the club’s highest score at this level of rugby and their second highest score in a league match ever. All of which will hopefully stand them in good stead when they visit CS Stags 1863 in two weeks time, kick off at 3.00pm.