Bedford Athletic came from behind to record a 29 points to 21 victory at home to Guildford.
In a match that seemed to be slipping away from them, they rallied in the final 15 minutes to score three unanswered tries and secure what had looked like an improbable win.
The first half was a largely inconsequential affair with neither side able to build any momentum. Errors were frequent, restarts were common, and both sides struggled to impose themselves on the game. Bedford Athletic opened the scoring in the 4th minute with a Leo Mortimer penalty, Ieuan Jones replied in kind for Guildford in the 11th minute and good work from Ryan Taylor in securing turnover ball won a further penalty for Bedford Athletic on 16 minutes. When the home side finally injected some pace into their attack they had the Guildford defence in trouble and they gave away several penalties in succession before Mortimer kicked one for a 9-3 lead on the half hour mark. However the restart was dropped and in the final ten minutes of the half, Guildford were able to build pressure through a series of set piece possessions, driving closer and closer to the home line before finally they got a forwards drive to power over, hooker Adam Bellamy emerging triumphant with the ball for the first try of the day. The conversion was missed so Bedford Athletic led 9-8 at half time.
The start of the second half was a poor period for the home side as they struggled to win possession and too often gave away unnecessary penalties to put themselves under pressure. Three penalties in a row allowed Guildford to clear their lines, gain territory in the Bedford Athletic half and finally kick a penalty through Jones for the lead in the 47th minute. The pattern seem to repeat itself from the restart and two further penalties led to another kickable chance for Jones in the 54th minute and a 14-9 lead. Although Guildford missed with their next kick at goal, from the resulting lineout they powered another maul deep into Bedford Athletic territory and eventually prop forward Matt Poole crossed at the posts for their second try which Jones converted for a 21-9 lead in the 62nd minute. That should have clinched matters but finally Bedford Athletic started to play with pace and purpose and slick handling down the back line saw left wing Glen Mulkerrins race away for a try on his full first team debut. Five minutes later it was Bedford Athletics’ turn to win penalties and a kick to the corner saw a series of drives bring a try for Ben Thompson in the 72nd minute. Neither of these tries was converted but still Bedford Athletic attacked. Running from their own 22, Steve Smith offloaded to Charlie Darlow who sped away from the visitor’s defence and timed his pass perfectly for Stephen Woodhead to cross for the winning try in the 76th minute, Mortimer’s conversion making the scoreline 26-21. From the restart the home side piled forward again and the match finished with them earning a scrum penalty which Mortimer kicked to deny the visiting side a losing bonus point.
The result keeps Bedford Athletic in touch at the foot of the table, just one point and one position off safety before they travel to Dorking this Saturday with a 3.00pm kick off.