Bedford Athletic 12 CS Stags 35

An embarrassing performance from Bedford Athletic saw them lose 35-12 at home to CS Stags.

In a match in which they were outplayed throughout against a side who were also promoted last season, the team showed none of the application, intensity, desire or determination that had been a hallmark of recent performances.

CS Stags had the better of the early exchanges deploying an effective kicking game to exit their own half and then powering through the phases or using their fly half Tom Hodgson to gain territory when in the realm of their opponents. This pressure paid off as early as the sixth minute as a series of carries started to reveal holes in the home defence and eventually Hodgson cut a fine line to waltz through the defence and touch down for a try by the posts that he converted himself. He added a penalty on eleven minutes and by now the visitors were starting to dominate the gain line in attack and defence, were showing themselves to be quicker in thought and deed and when not in possession were forcing Athletic into error after error. This pressure brought a second try on 21 minutes as having softened the home defence up through the middle there was space wide on the right for Toby Guyett to score. It was one-way traffic now and when Hodgson attempted a drop goal the half charge down gave CS Rugby an attacking 5 metre scrum. Scrum half Adam Nixon was allowed to run unhindered across the home defence and set left wing James Dazeley free to score in the corner. CS Stags had built a 20-0 lead in the first half hour and the Bedford Athletic coaches had seen enough and rang the changes. Steve Smith stepped into fly half, Ben Thompson came on to shore up the forward pack and Andy Ince was introduced to give a stronger ball carrying option. The changes made an immediate difference. Smith drilled a penalty deep into the visitor’s half and the forwards drove the lineout over the line for the first home try, touched down by James Wallace and converted by Smith. CS Stags showed they were unfazed in response, Hodgson slotting a penalty before half time to remind the hosts of their superiority and establish a 23-7 half time lead.

The visitors kept their foot on the throttle at the start of the second half driving Athletic back, winning the physical contest and harrying them into mistakes. The pressure built and built until they inevitably scored their bonus point try on 51 minutes through full back James Houstoun. Bedford Athletic responded with a brief period of fluidity as Andy Ince and captain Rob Watkins carried hard in the middle of the park and having set up a scrum in the visitor’s 22 Stephen Woodhead showed his pace to accelerate round the outside of the defence for his side’s second try. At 28-12 there was still a mountain to climb and with Ince off injured the home side’s efforts become increasingly forlorn. Either they attacked out wide but ran out of support or having built an attacking position, distributed too slowly and allowed the visiting defence to recover. CS Stags were content to wait for the error and simply clear their lines and when Bedford Athletic tried to run the ball out of defence with three minutes to go their humiliation was complete when outside centre Ryan Martin intercepted to score under the posts, Hodgson converting to complete the win.

Bedford Athletic celebrate the opening of their new AGP pitch at home to Chingford on Saturday with a 3pm kick off and will be keen to use the occasion to eradicate the embarrassment of this performance.