Bedford Athletic 31 Wimbledon 40

An energetic performance was not enough for Bedford Athletic as they fell to a fifth home defeat of the season going down 40 points to 31 to Wimbledon.

A dominant second half display from the visitors saw them score 28 points to turn the match around having trailed by 21 points to 12 at half time.

Non stop action for the first three minutes of the match very nearly brought about a Bedford Athletic try but the score was ruled out for a forward pass to Harry Sawford-Smith as he went over the line. Instead it was Wimbledon who scored first in the seventh minute as full back Freddie Hooper made the break and centre Finn Taylor finished the try off which was converted by Stephen Boatman. Bedford Athletic replied with a Leo Mortimer penalty but then failed to control the restart and from a scrum the ball was spread wide to the Wimbledon left wing where Oli Kitto went over in the corner. A further Mortimer penalty narrowed the gap in the 19th minute and better was to follow for the home side as they attacked from deep with Steve Smith adding impetus to a move that this time did accurately release Sawford-Smith down the right wing for a try that Mortimer converted for a 13-12 lead. Failure to deal adequately with the kick off again did not cost Bedford Athletic in scoring terms but it did see wing Josh Cassell leave the field with a broken hand. Halting the Wimbledon advance on their own line, Bedford Athletic turned the ball over and advanced up field themselves. Powerful carrying in the middle of the pitch by prop forward Ben Thompson opened up the visitors defence and when the ball went wide fly half Mortimer was on hand to take the scoring pass for a try he did not convert. He did however slot a long range penalty on the stroke of half time to give Bedford Athletic that 21-12 half time lead.

Wimbledon scored first in the second half when sloppy play turned the ball over and allowed them to counter attack with hooker Josh Forrester scoring to make it 21-17. Mortimer kept the score board ticking with a further penalty on 47 minutes but the middle twenty minutes of the second half belonged to Wimbledon. Two penalties from Boatman on 50 and 53 minutes narrowed the gap to 24-23 and as Bedford Athletic tried to force the game Wimbledon wrestled it away from them. Frustratingly the Wimbledon scores originated from half breaks by the home side that led firstly to a knock on off loading out of the tackle and secondly to not releasing the ball in the tackle. Wimbledon pressed their advantage both times with a series of power plays in the middle of the park which led to tries for Hooper on 61 minutes and second row Alex Campbell on 64 minutes. Boatman’s conversions took the game away from Bedford Athletic at 37-24 and the nail in the coffin arrived on 76 minutes when another Boatman penalty cut the home side adrift from losing bonus point range. There was still time for a third try for the home side as putting together a series of phases they pressurised the visiting defence eventually allowing debutant Adam Harris to exploit space down the blind side for a score in the corner. Mortimer converted to narrow the gap to nine points but the final attack of the day floundered on the half way line to leave the home side with nothing.

Defeat sees Bedford Athletic drop back into the relegation zone for the first time since October and means that a first away win of the season at bottom of the table Guildford this Saturday has now become something of a necessity.