Bedford Athletic 37 Sidcup 36

Bedford Athletic recorded their first win of the season with a 37-36 success at home to Sidcup.

In a game in which they shared 10 tries they looked in control but allowed a late fightback by the visiting side to add unnecessary drama to the occasion before clinging on for victory.

Bedford Athletic opened the scoring when a Steve Smith break was followed up by well linked play down the left wing before Jake Foster was released to the line for the opening try with Leo Mortimer adding the conversion. The home side continued to turn pressure into points when Mortimer added a penalty on 11 minutes. Although Sidcup were also generating chances Athletic kept their threat to a minimum and scored a third try of their own on 22 minutes. A quickly taken tap penalty by Tom Orton saw him dart through the defence to touch down by the posts, Mortimer’s conversion giving the home side a 17-0 lead. Bedford Athletic did not control the kick off and gifting possession to Sidcup the visitors quickly earned a couple of penalties and then from a set scrum 5 metres out from the line they pushed forward and earned a penalty try. In turn Bedford Athletic responded well with Smith finding a gap in the Sidcup defence and putting Stephen Woodhead away down the right wing for a third try. This could have been added to when Ben Thompson broke free but he was allegedly held up over the line. Nevertheless the fourth and bonus point try did arrive on 33 minutes. Sidcup appeared to have cleared Bedford Athletic pressure from their own 22 but when play returned Harry Sawford-Smith saw the opportunity to grubber kick down the left wing, gathering his own kick to score. Sidcup were very clearly going to build their game around the rolling maul and this finally paid off when no.8 Fred Ruff broke free from a maul in the home 22 and charged up to and over the line for a second try for the visitors which this time went unconverted. Bedford Athletic ended the half on the attack but once again a Tom Orton snipe was adjudged to be held up over the line and the home side could not build on their 27-12 lead.

Sidcup were on the attack following an early penalty in the second half and although the initial attempts to power through with their forwards and their maul did not work, they did have success when the ball was fed out to the right wing for Andre Patterson to score. Josh Twyford added the conversion and kicked a penalty and the score was back in the balance at 27-22. Bedford Athletic did then get a series of attacks going and when a penalty chance presented itself Mortimer kicked it for a 30-22 lead. Bedford Athletic did get the try they were looking for when Robbie Locke on his 50th appearance ran hard at the home defence, Steve Smith linked the play and then received the return pass to cross for the score in the 62nd minute, Mortimer’s touchline conversion vitally pushing the score to 37-22. The home side did not regather the restart and the ball came back to Sidcup who once again tried to batter the home line with their driving maul. This pressure was survived but once relieved it took a freakish cross field kick from Twyford to wrong foot the home defence and the bounce of the ball was kind to full back Riley Ahern who crossed for the fourth try. This came on 73 minutes and was converted by Twyford and worse was to follow when missed tackles allowed Alex Harris to burst down the right wing. He collected his own kick ahead and his try converted by Twyford made it a one point game. Bedford Athletic did control possession in the final stages and held on for a deserved if narrow win.

Bedford Athletic travel to early league leaders Wimbledon on Saturday with a 3pm kick off.