A late comeback could not prevent Bedford Athletic going down 34-29 at home to Guernsey.
The damage was done in a first half when the home side conceded 31 points before upping their efforts and keeping the visitors tryless in the second half of the game.
Guernsey dominated the first quarter of the match. The home side were competitive in response but lacked the power, pace and precision of their opponents and a lack of penetration and errors in defence were the difference between the teams. Guernsey exploited their superiority to score three tries, with clever running in attack and when necessary power close to the line being the clinching factor. Jacob Weeding, Matt Armstrong and Robin Le Cocq all crossed with Owen Thomas kicking two conversions. Bedford Athletic were showing enterprise in attack and this paid off when Lewis Ager went through a gap and found Stephen Woodhead in support for the opening try, Leo Mortimer converting on 16 minutes. The threat from Guernsey remained and with further tries both touched down by hooker Thomas Ceillam on 20 and 24 minutes with Armstrong adding one conversion for a 31-7 lead it really looked like the home side were set for a difficult afternoon. They kept in touch before half time though. A penalty kick to touch set up a driving lineout from which Nick Thomas was able to touch down and Leo Mortimer added that conversion and kicked a penalty from distance on the stroke of half time to leave Bedford Athletic trailing 31-17.
Bedford Athletic brought a new level of commitment and purpose to the second half and particularly in the third quarter they defended competently for long periods without allowing Guernsey any real scoring opportunities. Eventually Guernsey were awarded a penalty on the hour mark which they opted to kick at goal. The effort went wide but there was a double whammy for the home side as Guernsey tore back up the field from the restart earned another penalty and Athletic lost replacement scrum half Robbie Locke to the sin bin. Armstrong kicked the points to stretch the lead to 34-17. Bedford Athletic needed an immediate response and found one when Steve Smith glided through the defence and sped to the line for an unconverted try. Trailing 34-22 Bedford Athletic dominated possession if not territory in the final quarter going accurately through multiple phases but were halted by excellent defence. The chance of a further score seemed to have disappeared when Guernsey won a turnover penalty and then looked to run down the clock. However Bedford Athletic earned a midfield scrum with the final play of the game, Stephen Woodhead went through the gap and found Josh Cassell on his shoulder for a try that brought both a try and losing bonus point.
The points gained in defeat keeps Bedford Athletic out of the relegation zone as they head to Tunbridge Wells next week for a match that starts at 2.30pm.