Bedford Athletic started the new season with a solid home win by 39 points to 18 against West Bridgford.
In a match they controlled throughout they scored six tries to their visitor’s two in the first competitive game the club has played in eighteen months.
First points in the game went to West Bridgford courtesy of a Matt Cox penalty when the home side were offside at a lineout. On ten minutes Leo Mortimer had levelled up the scores after Josh McCann had got over the ball and forced a penalty for holding on. Gradually Bedford Athletic began to exert themselves in midfield with Steve Smith and Harry Sawford-Smith making several threatening line breaks and this brought the first try when Sawford-Smith broke through on 16 minutes creating the space that eventually saw the ball moved wide to Ben Thompson on the wing for the first score. The home side had another chance of a score with a drive from a five metre lineout but West Bridgford held firm. The scores were destined to come from deeper and when Smith once more broke through from his own half, the move was only snuffed out illegally when the visiting prop Tom Hackland made a tackle from an offside position resulting in a penalty try and earning him a sin binning. On the half hour mark Bedford Athletic led 15-3. Another break from their own half saw Bedford Athletic stretch the visiting defence once more with Sawford-Smith this time finishing the score, Mortimer converting for a 22-3 lead. The half ended with West Bridgford on the attack earning penalties from several lineouts close to the home line but eventually overthrowing and once Bedford Athletic earned the scrum penalty they cleared their lines to close the half.
West Bridgford regained the kick off at the start of the second half and their endeavours earned them a second penalty slotted by Cox. Bedford Athletic were resilient in response and when they had the ball always looked to threaten. The bonus point try arrived on 47 minutes when another line break was once again finished off by Thompson. On this occasion West Bridgford responded in kind with a break away try touched down by substitute Tom Southall and converted by Cox. The fifth try for the home side came three minutes later and once again Smith was the instigator as his grubber kick was successfully collected and touched down by Josh Cassell for his 104th try in 106 appearances. Playing their first game for a year and a half seemed to take its toll on all the players and the game became disjointed and penalty strewn in the last half hour. This spoiled any form of momentum but Bedford Athletic continued to look threatening particularly when running the ball from deep. On 72 minutes the bounce of the ball favoured the visitors again when they broke for a second try, scored by Ben Marlow but the final say of the day went to the home side. From a midfield scrum which once again powered the visitors backwards, the backs broke at pace and this time it was Matt Shacklady’s grubber kick that Stephen Woodhead touched down, Mortimer’s conversion completing the action for the afternoon.
Bedford Athletic are at home again this Saturday when they entertain early league leaders Belgrave at Putnoe Wood with a 3pm kick off.