Bedford Athletic 14 Nuneaton 39

Bedford Athletic were comprehensively beaten 39-14 by league leaders Nuneaton at Putnoe Wood.

An early 14-0 lead was not enough as Nuneaton took firm control thereafter scoring 39 unanswered points to keep their title challenge on track and condemn their hosts to a seventh successive league defeat.

Early exchanges were pretty even and the home side were not shy in creating chances. Andy Ince nearly combined with John Clarke having broken through the visiting rearguard and if Steve Smith and Tommy Mills had linked up on the right wing the first try would have been scored. Nevertheless it was the same two players who did fashion the first try of the day as a smoothly executed backs move put Mills into space and his kick through allowed Steve Smith the chance to touch down, James Mortimer converting on 10 minutes. A marginal forward pass three minutes later just pulled Josh Cassell back before Nuneaton had their own opportunities to advance. At this stage they seemed content to rely on the rolling maul but this was expertly stopped short of the line by Rob Watkins before Bedford Athletic relieved the danger. Ferocious defence paid dividends in the 27th minute when David Simpson intercepted Rory Vowles floated pass to race away for the second try, again converted by Mortimer for a 14-0 lead. Had Steve Smith and David Simpson linked up it would have been a third Bedford Athletic try but instead another Nuneaton rolling maul was deployed in response and successfully halted by the home side. From the scrum they were penalised and No.8 Umraan Jadwat was on hand to take a quick tap penalty and dive over for Nuneaton’s opening try. Vowles converted and Bedford Athletic led 14-7 at the end of a pulsating first half.

Nuneaton wasted no time in establishing their dominance at the start of the second half and Vowles kicked a penalty before full back Rhodri Adamson found a gap in the home defence to set up a second try for Jadwat which once converted by Vowles pushed Nuneaton into a 17-14 lead. Nuneaton were starting to monopolise possession which increasingly drew errors from the home side when they did have the ball. An unnecessary attempted switch pass when running out of defence gifted the ball to Nuneaton and once Cassell had been sin binned for killing the ball at a ruck Theo Knight was on hand to dart over for the third try on 58 minutes. Bedford Athletic began to be their own worst enemies as a lack of accuracy when they did have the ball started to cost them. A miss pass into touch allowed Nuneaton to attack from the set piece again and this time it was Joe Wilson who finished the try in the corner for the bonus point on 69 minutes. With Bedford Athletic visibly tiring, Stuart Livesey became the second home player to see yellow when he was sent to the sin bin on 72 minutes for intercepting in an offside position and from the scrum penalty, Rob Cook found the gap in the home defence to score. This time Vowles converted and the final try of the day came minutes later when Cook put in a cross field kick for wing Knight to claim his second try which went unconverted.

Beaten by a side that looks to be on the march to the league title, Bedford Athletic will take a welcome respite from league action this Saturday when they welcome Old Northamptonians for an East Midlands Cup semi final with a 2.15pm kick off at Putnoe Wood.