Bedford Athletic returned to winning ways with a 29 points to 10 victory over Hertford. They scored five tries in a game that they dominated all aspects of in attack and defence to fully deserve their bonus point victory.
From the start Bedford Athletic played with a pace and a precision that had been missing in previous weeks. This pressure gave rise to early chances. Fly half Felix Mallalieu nudged a penalty wide, then a period of concerted attack saw Casey George held up over the line and from the goal line drop out, Mallalieu was this time short with a drop goal attempt. Still the Bedford Athletic attack came in waves and when they knocked on just short of the line they won the Hertford scrum against the head, earned a further penalty from the next scrum and then spread the ball wide. When the play came back to the centre of the pitch the Hertford defence managed to turn the ball over in front of their own posts.
It was something of a surprise that the first quarter remained scoreless but the Hertford defence could not hold out for ever. Eventually the pressure told with Jake Foster sprinting clear on 25 minutes to touch down for the first try of the day, Mallalieu’s conversion attempt hit the post. Hertford failed to send the kick off the required ten metres and the home side were immediately back on the attack. Mallalieu just failed to collect a grubber kick through the defence leaving Hertford with a defensive scrum from the knock on. They were again penalised and two scrum penalties later the Hertford loose head William McKenna was sent to the sinbin.
Eventually the pressure told and the Hertford scrum was driven backwards over its own line with no.8 Casey George touching down for the try converted by Mallalieu on 34 minutes. Hertford kicked a penalty in response through fly half Kyle Lemon but when they were again penalised at a scrum Bedford Athletic were able to set up an attacking lineout, when the ball was moved infield Harry Sawford-Smith broke the line and although he was hauled down just short,play continued for Jake Foster to cross for an unconverted try and a 17-3 half time lead.
Bedford Athletic lost the initiative at the start of the second half when a couple of set piece plays resulted in errors and this allowed Hertford to pile the pressure on in the home 22. They should have scored but dropped the ball forward in the act of scoring. However Bedford Athletic were conceding penalties and therefore unable to clear their lines resulting in Oli Petrides being sent to the sin bin. Still the Hertford attacks came and still the home defence held out and finally following 15 minutes of pressure Hertford blew the opportunity with a knock on in attack. It took the home side a number of plays to fully relieve the pressure but when Mallalieu sent a booming 50:22 kick into the Hertford half the initiative fully returned to the home side. A lineout catch and drive sucked in the visiting defence and with the damage done the ball was spread wide where right wing Archie Duncan sped over in the corner for the bonus point try on 64 minutes. A further score was to follow minutes later, a fine burst through the middle of the field looked to have come to an end as Andy Ince knocked the ball on, Hertford attempted a half hearted fly hack out of defence in response as players stopped and Felix Mallalieu dribbled the ball over the try line and touched down when to everyone’s surprise the referee awarded the try. Mallalieu converted and the game was over as a contest at 29-3. Thereafter Bedford Athletic did look to try and open the game up when they could, a number of attacks failed due to a lack of accuracy and this was summed up when flanker Alex Kay intercepted one such move to race under the posts for Hertford’s only try of the day converted by full back Louis Kendrick. Nevertheless Bedford Athletic had done more than enough to earn victory.
The win moved the team up one place in the table but there is still plenty of work to be done to move away from the relegation zone starting at Shelford in two week’s time.