Bedford Athletic 26 London Irish Wild Geese 17

Bedford Athletic worked hard to earn a 26 points to 17 win at home to London Irish Wild Geese.

A bonus point try at the end of the match saw the team eventually take maximum points from the encounter which was a fitting reward for the afternoon’s endeavours.

The visitors were first to score in the seventh minute when no.8 Chris West broke away from a scrum and carried deep into the heart of the home defence. The move was carried on and in the end finished by inside centre Sean Cunningham who touched down the first try of the day. Ollie Turner added the conversion for a 7-0 lead. The visitors had the better of the early stages gaining more yardage from a close pick and drive game around the rucks than the home side were able to with a more expansive approach. The momentum shifted on twenty minutes as Bedford Athletic successfully stole an attacking lineout and launched a swift counter attack deep into London Irish territory. A quick tap penalty was illegally halted earning a yellow card for visiting no.7 Archie Mackay. With the extra man Bedford Athletic finally found the space with Steve Smith putting his centre partner Harry Sawford-Smith over for the side’s opening score, Leo Mortimer adding the conversion on 27 minutes. The kick off was dropped allowing London Irish Wild Geese to once more threaten the home line. However a period of serious pressure before half time was survived by the home side as first a thundering tackle from Nick Thomas and them a vital penalty turnover was secured by Tom Rees on the occasion of his 50th appearance for the first XV. This defensive effort saw the game reach half time locked at 7 points apiece.

The opening fifteen minutes of the second period were inconclusive as both sides struggled to impose themselves on the game. It took an error by visiting wing Josh Steadman who knocked on a free kick in his own 22 to put Bedford Athletic in the ascendancy as they were able to exploit their dominant scrum close to the visiting line. Following a series of phases it was replacement prop Ben Thompson who ran round the outside of the defence for the second score converted by Mortimer on 57 minutes. From the kick off the same player ran strongly through the heart of the visiting defence to set up a fluent counter attack move that finished with full back Robbie Locke sprinting over for the third try with Mortimer’s third conversion pushing the lead to 21-7. From this point Bedford Athletic should have taken a firm grip on proceedings but they allowed London Irish back into the game. First a Turner penalty on 62 minutes narrowed the gap to 21-10 and then a kick deep into the home half kept the pressure on, the defensive lineout was overthrown and the visitors scored their second try of the day through back row Jordan Scott, Turner again converting. The final ten minutes did belong to the home side as they pressurised their opponent’s line. Several set scrums might have been the platform needed but these were not executed and it took a mistake on a London Irish lineout for the home side to power through and force a penalty under the posts. This was missed but from the drop out restart, Harry Sawford-Smith eluded his tackler and set in motion a final move that saw Steve Smith cross for the final try in the left hand corner and although the conversion was also missed the victory had been secured.

Bedford Athletic will conclude the first half of the season when they travel to CS Stags on Saturday with a 2.00pm kick off.