Bedford Athletic 35 Tunbridge Wells 22

Bedford Athletic delivered a strong performance to defeat Tunbridge Wells 35-22 at Putnoe Wood.

A 4 try haul also produced the full five match points and allowed the side to close the gap on the sides ahead of them at the foot of the London & South East Premier league table.

The first serious action of the game came after one minute when the referee required Bedford Athletic to change their shirts due to a clash of colours. Following this Tunbridge Wells converted an early penalty through Frank Reynolds. Three early visits by Bedford Athletic to their opponents 22 saw the ball given away sloppily each time and on the third occasion a silly attempted kick ahead saw the visitors intercept and break the length of the field for the first try of the day to outside centre Michael Doherty on six minutes converted by Reynolds. Trailing 10-0 Bedford Athletic soon started to make their chances pay. A dominant scrum allowed fly half Leo Mortimer the opportunity to score his first try for the first XV on ten minutes which he converted, however the home side made hard work of scoring their second try of the day. The ball was whipped out of a scrum advancing over the Tunbridge Wells line only for winger Josh Cassell to run into a post, fortunately No.8 James Wallace was on hand to touch down the scoring opportunity. Mortimer’s conversion made it 14-10 on 14 minutes. Bizarrely from the restart the referee missed a visitor’s knock on, then a blatant offside and finally compounded this with a penalty award in front of the posts that Reynolds missed. For the next period of play neither side could really impose themselves until visiting scrumhalf Max Edmonton was sin binned and Mortimer extended the lead with a penalty on the half hour. Bedford Athletic began to make their pace with ball in hand pay before half time, Stephen Woodhead in particular opening up the defence before Ben Thompson profited with the third try on 34 minutes converted by Mortimer. Mortimer went on to kick a penalty before half time for a 27-10 lead.

The early stages of the second half saw Bedford Athletic dominant at scrum time but coughing up possession at the lineout and early half chances for the bonus point try were squandered. Instead, a lapse in discipline afforded Tunbridge Wells possession and territory and despite holding up well in defence this was compounded with yellow cards for Leo Mortimer and James Yates on 54 and 58 minutes. With just 13 men on the field the hosts were driven over their own line for a second Tunbridge try on 59 minutes touched down by hooker Stuart Nicholls, converted by Reynolds. As the game began to break up and become increasingly frantic in nature it was Bedford Athletic who profited with a break down the left-wing seeing scrum half Robbie Locke pop the ball to wing Woodhead for a try on 66 minutes that afforded the home side the cushion of a 15 point lead. This was important when a missed tackle saw Richard Webster score a third try for Tunbridge Wells on 71 minutes, however a penalty from Steve Smith three minutes later steadied the ship and Bedford Athletic saw out the remainder of the match without conceding another scoring opportunity.

A week’s break will now allow the side time to prepare for their next game away to Shelford on 17th November kick off 3.00pm, with away wins now also imperative to overcome the six point deficit that currently exists between the side and moving out of the relegation places.