Bedford Athletic started the New Year with a comfortable 52 points to 7 victory over Huntingdon.
For long periods the side looked like they were shaking off the after effects of the Christmas break but they finished the game with increasing sharpness and scored five tries in the second half compared to three in the opening period.
A slow start to the game was encapsulated by three lost attacking lineouts and a series of penalties conceded in the opposition 22 as Bedford Athletic dominated the territory statistics but little else. When they eventually got a lineout to work on 18 minutes the backs made good use of the ball to put Josh Cassell into space and he just made it to the line for the opening try. Any aspirations to dominate from the home side were soon dispelled when they lost the ball in possession from the restart, then couldn’t control a clearance kick from the Huntingdon fly half and from the resulting scrum stepped into touch to concede an attacking lineout. Huntingdon then won a penalty and opted for the kick at goal but missed. It didn’t take long for Charlie Darlow to redeem himself as he scored the next two tries in the game, the first when he latched on to a loose ball that went to ground from a Harry Sawford-Smith offload on the half hour mark and the second taking advantage of the space afforded by an advancing scrum in the 33rd minute. James Mortimer converted the first two tries of the afternoon. Having suffered a series of questionable penalties throughout the first half despite their dominance in every facet of the game, Bedford Athletic then suffered a sin binning in the 36th minute with Andy Ince having been adjudged to enter a ruck from the side in his own half. Nevertheless Bedford Athletic still attacked with 14 men and Josh Cassell was just bundled into touch at the corner flag before Ben Middleton stole a visiting lineout with John Clarke questionably adjudged to have made a double movement in the act of scoring the try. Bedford Athletic led 19-0 at halftime.
Early exchanges in the second half favoured Bedford Athletic and when Stephen Woodhead was floored with a dangerously high tackle (questionably adjudged not to be a yellow card), Bedford Athletic kicked the penalty to the corner and from a subsequent offside offence drove the visiting scrummage over their own line for Sven Meiland to touch down for the bonus point try. Mortimer converted and Bedford Athletic continued to dominate the game, halted only by a questionable stream of penalties against them, mostly in areas such as the scrum where they had their opponents disintegrating at almost every engagement. Having had a try opportunity ruled out for a questionable offside decision from a cross field kick, Bedford Athletic did score again when good handling saw a great interchange of passes between Archie Duncan and Stephen Woodhead for the latter to score on 54 minutes. Mortimer’s conversion pushed the score along to 33-0 and it was 40-0 on 64 minutes when Woodhead took advantage of another marmalised Huntingdon scrum to touchdown in the corner. Bedford Athletics’ attacking play was momentarily disrupted in the 68th minute when Huntingdon full back Sam Hirons intercepted the ball and raced 70 yards for a try converted by Tad Chapman but Bedford Athletic still had the final say toward the end of the game when Duncan danced over for a try on his league debut on 71 minutes and the forward pack once again shunted the visitors over their own line for a final try touched down by James Wallace on 79 minutes, Mortimer ending with 6 conversions out of 8 kicks for a 52 points to 7 winning margin.
Bedford Athletic remain in second place and travel to fourth place Kettering this coming Saturday for what will be one of the defining matches of the season.