Bedford Athletic 20 Brighton 10

In dreadful weather conditions Bedford Athletic recorded a 20 points to 10 home victory against Brighton.

It was a victory that moved the side out of the relegation places in London & South East Premier for the first time this season and they now sit comfortably in ninth going into the break for the World Cup Final.

The wet weather arrived at five minutes past three and the home side were pleased to have scored the opening try in the best of the conditions. This came on three minutes when Steve Smith started with a break that was carried on through several phases before he himself was on hand to finish the move off for a try under the posts. Leo Mortimer converted for a 7-0 lead. Immediately Bedford Athletic lost their grip on proceedings and a combination of erratic play, getting isolated on their forward drives and a rising penalty count saw the side on the back foot. Dave McIlwaine kicked a penalty for Brighton on 7 minutes and then converted a try by full back Robert Fogerty on 12 minutes as he was allowed the freedom of the home defence running back a clearance kick without a hand being laid on him. Brighton continued to dominate territory and possession in many ways due to the indiscipline of the home side but did not fashion many scoring chances. As the weather bore down lifting the pressure become more and more difficult until a scrum penalty on the half hour mark allowed Bedford Athletic to advance upfield at pace. Brighton killed the move illegally and Mortimer allotted a penalty to equalise the score at 10 points apiece. Bedford Athletic continued to force their way back into the game and the pressure told when Mortimer had a further penalty for the lead on the stroke of half time.

Early pressure at the start of the second half saw Bedford Athletic force a further penalty but on this occasion Mortimer was unsuccessful. Play then deteriorated with neither side able to make much of an impression in the wet and cold, heavy reliance being placed on a kicking game looking to force a spilled or dropped ball by the other side. On the hour mark this seemed to have gone Brighton’s way as the home side were penalised for catching the ball in front of their own knock on and a long range kick for McIlwaine drifted just wide. In turn Bedford Athletic looked to play out of defence and their chance came four minutes later when Brighton were penalised at a ruck, captain Rob Watkins took a quick tap penalty, Steve Smith carried play on and Josh Cassell was on hand to speed down the left hand touch line and squeeze over for a second try which Mortimer converted on 64 minutes. Disappointingly Bedford Athletic did not close out the game from here but there was encouragement as a stern defensive display kept Brighton at bay. Several line out steals were crucial in disrupting the visitor’s possession with Watkins and Dan Sims to the fore and eventually the home defence was a little too streetwise for their visitors who ran out of ideas and options before the end.

With the World Cup Final being played this Saturday and featuring England, Bedford Athletic have the opportunity to keep the cup theme going that afternoon when they entertain Dunstablians in the Bedfordshire Cup Semi Final at Putnoe Wood with a 2.15pm kick off. They return to league action away to Hertford at 2.30pm on Saturday 9th November.