Bedford Athletic 29 Westcombe Park 62

Bedford Athletic were well beaten by league leaders Westcombe Park going down by 62 points to 29. A poor first half performance left them 38-10 adrift at the break but they did fight back in the second half to secure a try bonus point before falling away again toward the end of play.

An early attacking lineout was lost and Westcombe Park quickly moved the turnover ball across the field before attacking down the left wing with outside centre James Burton adding the opening score from a move that went 80 metres, Jacob Buckley converting. Bedford Athletic responded with good carries from Charlie Darlow and Jake Foster leading to a penalty for Leo Mortimer. For the second match in a row, the home side was too passive in the early stages losing possession and getting dominated in the tackle area. A clearance kick on nine minutes was returned with interest, the defence struggled to get organised and incisive running from the visitors saw them maintain the momentum to cross the line for the second try scored by Harry Hudson. The third try was a carbon copy of the second. Bedford Athletic had been under some self-inflicted pressure losing possession in their own half and when the clearing kick didn’t find touch, again Westcombe Park upped the pace and good offloading and penetrating running saw them break the defence for a try to Rafael Lofinmakin-Dutta. Two missed conversions kept the score close and once Bedford Athletic got out of their half they were able to force some pressure in the visiting 22. A quick tap penalty from scrum-half Michael Trigg, unfortunately, ended with him leaving the field with a badly twisted knee but from the scrum Stephen Woodhead ran into space and freed up winger Archie Duncan for the sides opening try. Leo Mortimer converted but 17-10 was as close as the home side would get. On 27 minutes they coughed up possession trying to run out of defence and the visiting counterattack was ruthless ending with a try in the corner for winger Kieran Thompson this time converted by Buckley. Unable to secure possession from the kick-off Bedford Athletic repeated the error shortly thereafter when trying to run the ball from their own half, losing possession in contact and watching the visitors slice through their defence for another try to Thompson. A very ropey first half performance came to an end when the home side lost a lineout in their own half, back row forwards Sam Fombo and Lofinmakin-Dutta who were a constant thorn in the home team’s side combined well down the wing and several missed tackles later Nick Cook crossed for the 6th try. Two more Buckley conversions made it 38-10.

The second half began in more positive fashion for the home side. Woodhead made a sharp break and when centre Oli Petrides got the ball away to wing Luke Denham his speed took him through two defenders for the second try, Mortimer converting. Bedford Athletic were fighting their way back with greater control of territory and possession, carrying hard and moving the ball at pace. From a lineout Tom Allwrightcarried into the defence, Mortimer continued the move and found prop Ryan Taylor on his shoulder to score the third try on his 200th appearance. Another Mortimer conversion was shortly followed by a visiting penalty to try and steady the score but when another Westcombe Park attack stalled, Denham pounced on the dropped ball to speed away from 50 metres for the bonus point try on the hour mark. Still Bedford Athletic pressed, now with a dominant scrum giving them field position and opportunities but the revival ended with a strong defensive tackle and a loose ball enabling the visitors to counter at speed and score a seventh try through Hudson. Bedford Athletic kept attacking but now the play was fast, loose and error-prone and this resulted in two further counterattack tries to their visitors in the final ten minutes through Joseph Ratcliff and Bradley Bateup. Buckley converted all the second half tries.

Having been brushed aside by the league leaders Bedford Athletic now face the opposite challenge as they travel to bottom of the table Sidcup on Saturday kick off at 3pm.