Bedford Athletic advanced to the Final of the Bedfordshire Cup with a 19-12 victory over Ampthill Jets.
In the end, the greater fitness of the home side told as they pulled away in the final 20 minutes to close out victory in a tight contest.
The opening half-hour was evenly contested but also prone to error, untaken half chances and missed opportunities from both sides. Line outs in particular proved to be an Achilles heel. It was therefore to the home side’s credit that they did take the points on offer when available with Ben Feltham kicking two penalties in that period to establish a 6-0 lead.
It was Ampthill who dominated the final ten minutes of the half. Firstly they had an opportunity down the left wing which was pulled back for a foot in touch and then from a midfield scrum they powered to the right with outside centre Tom Clark finding the space to glide through for the try. The conversion was missed and Bedford Athletic led 6-5 at halftime.
Luke Denham had the first opportunity of the second half as he weaved his way through the visiting defence but he lost the ball in contact and this allowed Ampthill to counter-attack and then dominate territory for the first twenty minutes of the second half. Try as they might Bedford Athletic could not break their visitor’s grip and eventually their pressure led to a try as fly-half Fynn Cooke chipped the ball over the defence and it was expertly collected by wing Ethan Wells who raced away for the score, Cooke added the conversion.
Bedford Athletic finally broke free just after the hour mark. Ben Middleton won clean line out ball, the backs had time and space to attack and Denham made amends for the earlier spillage with a clean break down the right-wing. The ball eventually found its way out to winger George Murray and he touched down for the side’s opening try.
Trailing 12-11 Bedford Athletic were suddenly in the ascendancy. Centre Steve Smith led the next break as he wrong-footed ex Bedford Athletic player Morgan Dayes and although the break was stopped just short of the line the move was carried on firstly by captain Robbie Locke and then back row Lewis Sharp who touched down for the score. Leading 16-12 Bedford Athletic were able to consolidate their growing superiority with a third Feltham penalty with five minutes remaining. Ampthill ran the ball hard out of defence in the search for the equalising score but stern home defence meant they were unable to find a way out of their half and Bedford Athletic went through to the Final where they will meet either Leighton Buzzard or Luton.
The side returns to league action this Saturday when they host Old Northamptonians in Midlands One East with the new kick-off time of 3.00 pm.