Bedford Athletic lost a close game to Tring by 28 points to 22. Although the side led twice during the course of the match they couldn’t find the scores in the closing stages to close out the game and slipped to their fourth home defeat of the season.
From the kick off Bedford Athletic fumbled a clearance kick and then conceded a scrum penalty which immediately put them on the back foot. A testing period of defence followed relieved only when Tring were penalised for crossing. Once they had possession the hosts showed that they too could exert pressure with both Andy Ince and Nick Tarr prominent with forward carries. Eventually the pressure told and on 12 minutes a grubber kick behind the defence by fly half Leo Mortimer saw prop Lewis Ager on hand to score his first try for the club. Tring made another penetrating attack in response which was dealt with by a turnover close to the home side’s line. Bedford Athletic worked their way back upfield and on this occasion profited from a kickable penalty which Mortimer duly slotted to pass 900 points for the 1st XV. Tring were keen to make the match a physical game and from a penalty just inside the home side’s half, centre Ed Stanford broke and carried play deep into the home 22. Although hauled down short of the try line, play was quickly recycled to the left hand touchline where wing Charlie Goss-Lambourne scored in the corner on the half hour. With the match tied at eight points apiece it was Tring who scored next. An unnecessary attempted kick along the ground was blocked by the Tring defence, full back Cullen Murfitt picked up and raced away from 50 metres to score his side’s second try, this time Hogan converted. Needing a score before half time Bedford Athletic went hard at the Tring defence. With Ryan Taylor now on the pitch the scrum was moving forward and following several phases close to the away side’s line Nick Tarr was held up. Another penalty led to another scrum and although the referee was playing yet another scrum penalty advantage this time Bedford Athletic fed the ball wide for full back Archie Duncan to score, Mortimer’s conversion making it 15-all at half time.
Bedford Athletic dominated possession at the start of the second half going through numerous phases but most of it was inside their own half. As a result when a turnover penalty came it was in range for Tring to kick to the corner, and from the lineout, first centre Oliver Beeny crashed the ball forward and then no.8 Oliver O’Gorman picked up and dived over to regain the lead for the visitors at 20-15. The home side now started to bring some variation to their attack and as a result managed to get Harry Sawford-Smith free on an arcing run to the visitor’s line. Stopped just short, the home scrum nevertheless won a penalty to maintain the momentum, a series of close range drives saw Ben Middleton held up over the line but at the next play from a penalty, a Mortimer cross field kick was gathered by Duncan who dived over on 57 minutes. Mortimer converted for a 22-20 lead. Tring however contrasted Bedford Athletic’s running game by kicking for territory, a 50:22 kick once again leading them close to the home side’s line. This time it was the visiting fly half Hogan who put in the accurate cross field kick leading to the fourth and bonus point try for Jacob Murtagh on 65 minutes. Another missed conversion made the score 25-22 and almost immediately Mortimer had a long range penalty chance for the home side to level matters up which went just wide. Bedford Athletic continued to push for a winning score but in the main their possession was too far away from the visitor’s line to create a significant chance and they were too error prone to maintain the accuracy needed to break through the Tring defence from distance. Instead with the game continuing to be played inside the home half the kickable penalty went the way of the visitors, Hogan slotting the kick on 78 minutes to leave Tring victorious.
The losing bonus points sees Bedford Athletic advance to 52 points for the season and finish in 7th place out of 12 teams in the league having won nine and drawn one of 22 matches.