Bedford Athletic earned a hard fought victory by 30 points to 19 at home to Peterborough.
In a match where they made a poor start and trailed by 12 points to 3 at one stage they finished the game the stronger side to secure a try bonus point outscoring their visitors by 4 tries to 3.
Early exchanges saw Bedford Athletic create opportunities, but their first two visits to the Peterborough 22 ended in penalties against them for offside and for holding on. Enabled to clear their lines Peterborough were slowly converting possession into territory and territory into try scoring chances and they took the lead on 14 minutes when having stretched the Bedford Athletic defence both left and right, outside centre Michael Bean sped through on the left wing to open the scoring. From the restart James Mortimer kicked a penalty to narrow the gap to 5-3 but by now Peterborough were starting to grow into the game. They were certainly dominating possession as Bedford Athletic kicked away what little ball they had, they were starting to dominate the breakdown area and their speed of purpose was causing the home defence difficulties. When Bedford Athletic kicked a clearance direct to touch and conceded an attacking lineout in their own 22 as a result the visitors made their dominance pay and this time it was visiting no.8 Sarel Pretorius who was on the end of the move which converted by Joe Andresen saw the visitors lead by 12 points to 3 on 25 minutes. Changes were necessary for the home side and on came Nick Thomas who was immediately effective in driving play forward and getting the hosts behind the visiting defence. This approach paid dividends on 33 minutes when Jake Foster carried hard through the Peterborough lines and when the ball was spread down the left wing, Josh Cassell and Stephen Woodhead combined well to allow Woodhead to outpace the defence for their opening try. Bedford Athletic retained the ascendancy from the kick off and achieved results before half time when a cross field kick from Mortimer allowed Cassell to cross for the score that gave Bedford Athletic a 15-12 half time lead.
Pressure from the restart saw Peterborough knock the ball on and from the next phase of play a penalty kick at goal allowed Mortimer to both extend the lead to 18-12 and arrive at 200 points for the season so far in the process. However Peterborough were not out of the game at this stage and when Bedford Athletic gave them possession back with a knock on from the restart it was their turn to tear down the left wing, win a lineout and then pick a gap through the Bedford Athletic midfield for Bean to cross for his second try, Andresen’s conversion returned the lead to Peterborough at 19-18 on 48 minutes. In a diametrically opposed performance to the previous week, Bedford Athletic chose this moment to exert their authority on proceedings. Forcing a lineout on the Peterborough five metre line, James Wallace led the charge for the line and when he was held up, Jake Foster finished the move for a try to retake the lead. The home side were now starting to swarm in defence, closing down the dangerous Peterborough runners and force errors that were not there in the first period. Josh Cassell nearly crossed in the corner for the bonus point try but if he was denied with a despairing final tackle the team as a whole was not as the lineout was stolen and John Clarke capped an afternoon of penetrating runs and dynamic forward play with a touch down for the fourth try. Mortimer’s conversion made it 30-19 with a quarter of an hour left to play and this was the end of any serious scoring chances with the hosts, admirably marshalled by captain Rob Watkins, soaking up any pressure the visitors were able to raise, the game ending with yet another driving maul being halted short of the Bedford Athletic line.
The victory leaves Bedford Athletic in second place trailing league leaders Syston by a point prior to their visit to the Leicestershire side this Saturday.