A narrow defeat for Bedford Athletic in their first home game of the London & South East Premier season losing 26-24 to Tring.
A match which ended up four tries all saw the visitors, who lost only four games all season last time around, just sneak home by one conversion.
Early pressure came from Tring and with field position secured from an early penalty they rumbled close to the home line only for visiting winger Elliott Byfield to knock the ball on with the line at his mercy. He compounded this error minutes later running laterally across the pitch only to lose possession allowing Stephen Woodhead to break clear down the right wing and he touched down his own kick ahead on 5 minutes for a 5-0 lead. Bedford Athletic began to dominate the close exchanges but were undone on 15 minutes when a defensive scrum led to the ball being quickly switched to the left wing for Sam Barnes to race away from 80 metres, deceiving the cover defence for his side’s opening try converted by fly half Jake Olley. With the wind in their sails, Tring won a penalty for offside on halfway and having kicked into a threatening position inside the Athletic 22 they fashioned a second try. Once the forwards realised they could not pummel their way over the line the play was switched quickly across the backs for outside centre Gary Andrews to touch down by the posts, Olley converting for a 14-5 lead on 20 minutes. Bedford Athletic still had plenty in the locker and a swift attack initiated by Steve Smith saw his centre partner David Simpson put through the gap and surviving an attempted tackle by full back Michalski he crossed by the posts giving James Mortimer an easy conversion to trail 14-12 on 24 minutes. Tring secured their own kick off and soon had Bedford Athletic pinned back in their own 22. On this occasion it took a series of forward drives to open sufficient space for full back Michalski to power over by the posts, Olley converting for a 19-12 lead. Tring now looked to press this advantage home and might have done so when Charlie Darlow was sin binned for a high tackle where the penalty was reversed given that the Tring second row was also sin binned for retaliation. The penalty reversal gave Bedford Athletic a clearing kick and they maximised this opportunity to press in the Tring 22 with James Wallace, in his 50th appearance for the first XV, stealing an intercept pass for a try converted by Mortimer that saw the scores tied at 19-all at half time.
The second half saw slowly building Tring pressure along with committed Bedford Athletic defence. Steve Smith and Charlie Darlow both halted attacks with turnover penalties and the next Tring attacks into the home 22 foundered as a result of forward passes. Having built up this head of steam it would have been immensely frustrating for Tring to see Steve Smith burst clear and combining with Stephen Woodhead secure the bonus point try on 62 minutes as Woodhead released the ball out of the tackle for the scoring pass to Smith. In response Tring failed with their fifth attack of the half, the try ruled out for a double movement but finally succeeded with their sixth courtesy of a misplaced knock back in defence with Michalski pouncing to score. Olley’s conversion left the game in the balance at 26-24. Too often Bedford Athletic did not retain possession for long enough to fashion a scoring chance but this chance seemed to arrive when they destroyed a Tring scrum with 5 minutes to play. However, the penalty kick to touch led to a line out throw that was lost and Tring were able to see out the final minutes without further threat of a score.
Two bonus points in defeat saw the team on the board for the campaign ahead with the side traveling to recently relegated Wimbledon on Saturday with a 3pm kick off.