Bedford Athletic 22 Sudbury 10

Bedford Athletic prevailed in a tough contest at home to Sudbury by 22 points to 10. With the scores even at half time, the home side pulled away in the second half and some strong defence carried them through for the win.

Bedford Athletic started with good intensity and carried the game to their opponents. If anything they were over ambitious with a couple of attacks falling foul of turnover penalties when the play got ahead of the support and a couple of ambitious passes ending up being intercepted. Nevertheless they won a penalty of their own in the 4thminute for a late tackle which Leo Mortimer duly kicked for the lead. Bedford Athletic were not able to find another scoring chance despite dominating the opening twenty minutes ad eventually a turnover gave Sudbury a foothold in the home side’s half with Sam Rust kicking an equalizing penalty. Leo Mortimer broke the midfield stranglehold on the game with a clever kick in behind the Sudbury defence. This led to an attacking lineout from which the home side released Josh Cassell through a gap to the line for the opening try on twenty minutes, converted by Mortimer. Sudbury were keen to play with pace when they had the ball and this led to several breaks into the Bedford Athletic half. These breaks forced field position and a carried back clearance direct to touch by the home side gave Sudbury an attacking lineout and although Bedford Athletic managed to clear, Leo Mortimer’s kick was half charged down. Sudbury picked up the loose ball running against a broken field defence and exploited the space down the right wing for a try to winger Jasper Boydell, converted by Rust. An unfortunate injury to influential visiting no.8 Henry Cowling saw him leave the field before half time which put Bedford Athletic in the ascendancy. A penalty kick to touch should have led to a final attack from a lineout but the throw was lost and the half ended with the sides level at ten points apiece.

The home side took control at the start of the second half. Sudbury failed to clear the kick off and although Stephen Woodhead’s grubber kick went out of play behind the dead ball line, Sudbury opted from a scrum restart. This was duly marched backward by a dominant home scrum led by Ryan Taylor and the charge travelled all the way to the 5 metre line where Rob Watkins touched the ball down. Realising his mistake he quickly carried play on and several phases later emerged from the bottom of a ruck having subsequently grounded the ball in the correct place for a try to take the lead. Mortimer converted. The game remained a close contest with the defence of the home side particularly notable led by the swingeing tackles of the aforementioned Watkins and the timely turnovers of tight head prop Taylor. When Leo Mortimer successfully kicked a 50:22 to give Bedford Athletic position in the visiting 22, Sudbury also fell foul of kicking a clearance straight to touch having carried the ball back inside their 22. Quick thinking from winger Archie Duncan saw him advance to the point of the lineout, initiate a quick throw and having instigated the attack he was also on hand to finish the try in the 61st minute. Leo Mortimer was unsuccessful with the conversion and also with a penalty kick from the half way line minutes later as Bedford Athletic looked to close out the game, so they had to rely on their defence instead. Keeping up steady pressure on the visiting set piece and disrupting Sudbury’s own attacking lineout from a 50:22 kick together with a monumental effort from the home forwards to keep hammering their opponents backwards, meant that although never comfortable the home side were never in danger of surrendering the lead and as the rain fell they saw out victory at the end.

There was no change for Bedford Athletic in the league table remaining seventh and they now travel to third from bottom Medway on Saturday still looking to move into the top half.