Bedford Athletic 24 Colchester 50

Bedford Athletic were well beaten at home to Colchester by 50 points to 24. Although the first half was a relatively even contest a sloppy second half performance led to a resounding defeat from which they were lucky to emerge with a try bonus point.

The early warning signs were there for Bedford Athletic when they allowed the Colchester scrum half to dummy and escape through a gap at a line out to run fully 50 metres for a try. They did respond quickly though with a scrum penalty allowing them to set up an attacking opportunity in their visitor’s half. From a line out they drove hard at the visiting defence and Luke Denham eventually emerged with his first try of the day, Leo Mortimer converting. The kick off was returned with interest by Archie Duncan as he launched a counter attack from deep but his kick ahead was fielded by Colchester and they launched a far more effective counter attack of their own with players in support releasing scrum half Corey Button to the line, with fly half Chris Lewis converting. Once again Bedford Athletic responded by launching an attack from a lineout, with the ball going wide to Stephen Woodhead who broke through to the line to level the scores at 12 points all on 18 minutes. In an even contest discipline was going to be key and it was Bedford Athletic who cracked first allowing their visitors to kick deep into home territory. Although the home side contested and turned over one line out, Colchester changed tactics and abandoning the drive spread the ball wide at the next with a clever loop move sending right winger Ross Taylor over in the left corner. When Bedford Athletic had possession they were still able to create opportunities and once again moving the ball at pace down the back line, outside centre Denham powered through and then beyond the visiting defence finally outstripping the cover for the third try. Colchester did still end the half with the advantage. Sniping effectively through an unguarded ruck, Colchester got behind the defence and then accelerated into the space to release left wing Luke Rokomoce for the bonus point try this time converted by full back Jimmy Mpailane for a 24-17 half time lead.

Stephen Smith spearheaded a sharp break at the start of the second half but collapsed under the weight of the defensive tackle and had to leave the field. From a penalty Bedford Athletic drove the ball deep into the Colchester 22, and then drove over a driving maul for a bonus point try of their own touched down by Ryan Taylor. Shortly afterwards Colchester were reduced to 14 men when full back Mpailane was sin binned but this did not prove the advantage the home side would have hoped for. Giving away a careless penalty for offside they defended the first driving maul pushing it into touch, and then with a chance to clear, an unnecessary forward pass gave Colchester a scrum from which they attacked an undefended blindside for a try to replacement scrum half Ed Parry. Minutes later the home team juggled and scrambled and ultimately lost control of a ball being passed down their back line when trying to return a clearing kick, the ball ending up with winger Rokomoce for his second try. Lewis converted both tries to virtually end the contest at 38-24 on 57 minutes in a period when they had been one man short. Bedford Athletic continued to press but their attacks now lacked power as they lost the collisions, lacked precision as the error count mounted and lacked composure under pressure. Although they were in touching distance of the visitor’s line they were driven back. Finding themselves again in their own half and running out from defence a predictable back line move was intercepted by centre Jacob Bodkin for a try, Lewis converting. As the home side continued to expend plenty of effort but with little reward they again failed to deal with a Colchester clearance, the knock on leading to an attacking scrum from which the Colchester attack spread the ball wide for a final hat trick try for winger Rokomoce.

A disappointing result and performance will leave Bedford Athletic with some thinking to do before hosting another top half of the table side Shelford this Saturday with a 3pm kick off.