Bedford Athletic 54 Shelford 19

Bedford Athletic secured a comfortable win at home to bottom of the table Shelford by 54 points to 19.

Given that the team scored 10 tries the score could have been more but strong winds made kicking difficult and therefore the return from the extra kicks was always going to be minimal.

Bedford Athletic started with plenty of energy and were on the scoresheet within five minutes as they created an overlap down the right wing with eventual man of the match Stephen Woodhead releasing Josh Cassell for the first try, Leo Mortimer converting. Shelford responded well and from a midfield scrum No.8 Sam Till broke to the line and when he was hauled down the visitors patiently went through the phases before loose head prop Matt Gregerson ploughed over for the try. James Mepham’s conversion levelled mattes on 11 minutes. Playing against the wind Shelford appeared to have the patience to go through their phases without particularly threatening the Bedford Athletic line whilst the home side appeared anxious in possession, always trying to create a try scoring chance. A couple of knock ons and forward passes had denied them before Shelford flanker Fred Betteridge was sin binned for deliberately killing the ball. Tom Rees was held up over the line from an attacking scrum and from the reset the ball went wide for Woodhead’s first try on 22 minutes. Steve Smith was denied a try minutes later due to a forward pass, but when Bedford Athletic turned the ball over in the 29th minute they ran the ball from a scrum in their own half and neat interpassing saw Woodhead finish the score on the left wing for a 17-7 lead. Shelford controlled possession and territory in the final ten minutes of the half and were rewarded just before half time when they powered forward from an attacking scrum and Owen Miller got over the line.

Leading 17-12 at half time and following a stuttering first half performance Bedford Athletic needed to start the second half well, now playing against the wind. Despite an early error they soon regained possession and exploited space down the right wing. First it was Charlie Darlow who scored the bonus point try on 43 minutes and then Woodhead completed his hat trick on 47 minutes. Mortimer converted the latter try and at 29-12 the floodgates opened for a time. The home side stole a lineout and spread the ball to the left wing for a David Simpson try on 53 minutes and then from a scrum the home backs shifted the point of attack to the blindside allowing Harry Sawford-Smith to score on 59 minutes. The purple patch ended when having caught the kick off Bedford Athletic ran the ball back through the entire visiting side for Steve Smith to touch down for a 44-12 lead. Shelford had some brief respite when they finally secured possession from a kick off and again going through the phases close to the Bedford Athletic line Betteridge redeemed himself with a try that Mepham converted on 65 minutes. However, when Bedford Athletic stole back an attacking lineout the momentum was lost and the final ten minutes were played out almost exclusively in the Shelford 22. Two late tries resulted, the first following constant pressure was scored by Cassell and having kicked the ball straight out of play from the kick off, the home side ran the final play from the scrum. Cutting through the heart of the visiting defence it was Sawford-Smith who finished off the final opportunity for the tenth try.

Bedford Athletic travel to Oundle on Saturday for an East Midlands Cup semi final before resuming their London & South East Premier campaign away to Westcliff a week later.