Bedford Athletic were convincing 45-15 winners at home to Medway. Three tries in each half were enough to see the home side overcome the bottom-of-the-table visitors, the result also ensuring that Bedford Athletic are safe at this level for another season.
Handling errors dominated the opening minutes and this meant that most of the possession and territory went the way of the visiting side so it was against the run of play when Leo Mortimer opened the scoring for the home team with a penalty in the ninth minute. Bedford Athletic failed to deal with the restart and this left Medway pressing once more and they had the first try scoring opportunity of the day when centre Alfie Orris sliced through the defence only to spurn the overlap and inexplicably kick the ball dead. Bedford Athletic slowly started to create chances of their own. A quick tap penalty from scrum half Tom Orton who made his 250thappearance for the first XV at Sudbury last week put the home side behind the defence but the ball was turned over. From an attacking lineout the first try did come as Luke Denham’s running line held the defence and Harry Sawford-Smith broke through the gap on the 22 to burst to the line and score in the 22nd minute. From the restart Josh Walker secured the ball and started a move that sped rapidly across the pitch releasing right wing Denham to outpace the defence to the line minutes after he had failed to control his own kick ahead which had created a similar scoring chance. A 50:22 kick from fly half Leo Mortimer once again gave Bedford Athletic attacking position and a series of lineout catch and drives followed with the home side splintering the visitors maul on the second occasion for Liam Walsh to dart through and score. Mortimer converted all three tries for a 24-0 lead on the half hour mark. The final ten minutes of the half saw Bedford Athletic on the defensive mainly as a result of their own indiscipline. Josh Cassell caught and defused a cross field kick and then the forwards repelled multiple drives from the visitors close to the line, Mortimer eventually relieving the pressure with a clearing kick to keep 24-0 as the half time score.
Medway got on the scoreboard early in the second half with a penalty as the home side’s play became increasingly disjointed often breaking down after one or two phases. It took the individual strength of Andy Ince and the pace of Josh Cassell to fashion the bonus point try, Cassell touching down in the left corner in the 49thminute. Mortimer’s successful conversion made it 31-3 but the first Medway try followed soon thereafter as Orris exploited a gap on the blindside to break through some weak tackling to make it to the line. Bedford Athletic responded by winning a couple of penalties of their own which was enough to drive Medway back. The first lineout catch and drive collapsed just short of the line but the next powered over with Nick Thomas the scorer on the hour mark. Mortimer added the conversion to make the score 38-8 and he completed a 100% kicking success rate on the day for theconversion of the sixth try which was touched down by Luke Denham after he sped through the defence having been put into a narrow space by Oli Petrides. Bedford Athletic failed to deal with the kick off which they ran across their own 22, lost possession, got turned over and once forced on the defensive lost Archie Duncan to the sin bin for being offside. Despite opportunities they never escaped their own 22 and eventually succumbed to a charge from Mo Pangarker as Medway resorted to quick taps from all their penalties. The conversion made the score 45-15 with ten minutes left. There was no further scoring as Bedford Athletic’s forwards failed to make sufficient yards in contact leaving the outside backs little space to create any scoring chances, this lack of cohesion having affected the side for most of the second half. Medway also created nothing further leaving 45-15 as the final score.
The result leaves Bedford Athletic in sixth position in the league needing a top eight finish to qualify for the pool stages of the end of season cup competitions and with two matches left starting away to Tunbridge Wells in two weeks time.