Bedford Athletic concluded their National 3 Midlands campaign with a 53-19 victory over Towcestrians.
Despite relegation, in the final league game of the season the team produced a devastating display of attacking rugby to score 8 tries and leave the league on a high.
The intentions of the home side were obvious from the kick off as they immediately exerted pressure on the visiting defence and a series of penalties led to a line out catch and drive and a try from a maul for Ben Middleton on 3 minutes. Just 3 minutes later the home side repeated the dose and this time it was the backs who profited with Charlie Darlow crossing for the try. The early blitz from Bedford Athletic wasn’t over and David Simpson crossed for a third try on 8 minutes and they could have made it four tries early on if Josh McCann had been able to gather a sharp pass from an attacking ruck. Trailing 17-0 Towcestrians began to steady the ship and a prolonged period of attack paid dividends when eventually Nick Thomas was sin binned and Callum Jones crossed for a try converted by Callum Garwood. Bedford Athletic were still creating chances to score, aided by Eugene Baxter’s sin binning on 26 minutes, but of those that did come their way, Josh Cassell was unable to transfer the final scoring pass and then a strong break led by Ben Reed was snuffed out when Cassell and Stephen Woodhead failed to exchange passes accurately enough. Instead it was Towcestrians who scored next when Alex Chalcraft broke through the midfield and a series of phases later Jake Bates crashed over the line with the home defence stretched. A 17-12 lead became 22-12 at half time when Tom Orton powered through a gap from a midfield scrum and a well weighted flat pass sped across the defence to put Woodhead in for the try.
Early in the second half Bedford Athletic had a penalty chance to extend their lead and although this was missed they took advantage minutes later when Josh Cassell cut back against a drifting defence to score under the posts, James Mortimer adding the conversion. Although the lead was now 29-12 the next score was vital in a season where too often Bedford Athletic have been caught and overtaken by their opponents. This cause was aided by the sin binning of David Devlin-Jones on 49 minutes and five minutes later it was David Simpson who burst though by the posts for the sixth try. James Hawken converted this and the seventh try on 61 minutes when Ben Middleton propelled himself to the line following sustained pressure in the visitor’s 22. A penalty from Hawken on 64 minutes consolidated the lead and with the game won, Bedford Athletic were now producing a fast attacking brand of rugby that they have been capable of all season, the eighth try being dotted down by Stuart Livesey on 72 minutes, Hawken again converting. Towcestrians did pull a try back at the end when Devlin-Jones went through a gap for a try converted by Garwood but there was no doubting it was Bedford Athletics’ day as they concluded their league campaign with their best win of the season.
Even though the campaign has ended in relegation, Bedford Athletic will take the positives from this display forward to the East Midlands Cup Final at Goldington Road on Wednesday evening when they play Peterborough Lions.