Bedford Athletic 57 Paviors 12

An outstanding first half performance from Bedford Athletic saw them defeat Paviors by 57 points to 12.

With memories of a league defeat away to the same team, and a below par performance the previous week fresh in their minds, Bedford Athletic banished all doubts as to their credentials as league leaders with 43 unanswered points in the first 27 minutes.

The first try arrived in 24 seconds. James Wallace caught the kick off and carried hard through a couple of tackles, when the ball was spun wide, Harry Sawford-Smith broke the line, Charlie Darlow carried the move on in support and Stephen Woodhead took the scoring pass to finish under the posts. James Mortimer converted and Bedford Athletic repeated the dose in the fourth minute with Josh Cassell the beneficiary on this occasion for a second converted try. Still Bedford Athletic powered forward and now it was the turn of the forwards to batter away at the Paviors line led by a bullocking run from John Clarke. A series of phases of play later Charlie Darlow crashed over for the third try in the eleventh minute. Paviors briefly had possession from the restart but when they turned the ball over the Bedford Athletic counter attack was instant and decisive as Stephen Woodhead outstripped the cover for his second try. Mortimer converted both this and the Darlow try for a 28-0 lead and a try bonus point on 15 minutes. He further stretched the lead with a penalty on 22 minutes and from the restart Paviors back row forward Chris Tipton was sin binned for taking a man out in the air. Bedford Athletic made their man advantage count with further tries in the 25th and 27th minutes through Harry Sawford-Smith and Nick Thomas with Mortimer converting one to open up a 43-0 lead. Paviors finally started to get their hands on the ball and when they took a quick tap penalty they created space down the left wing in a move that ended only when full back Darlow brought down the visiting attacker as he kicked through for the line. The yellow card evened up the numbers and from the penalty, Paviors exerted pressure from close range on the home line eventually crossing for their opening score. Bedford Athletic came straight back into the game and a series of scrum penalties saw them camped on the visitor’s line but they couldn’t fashion a further score and led 43-5 at half time.

Paviors started the day in fourth place and demonstrated the sort of resilience one would expect from such a well-positioned side at the start of the second half. Although Bedford Athletic had the early possession and territory they were profligate in their use of it and conceded several penalties which eventually turned the tide in the visitor’s favour. Once they were able to get a foothold in the home 22 they once again showed how dangerous they could be and from a midfield scrum they released full back Matt Molyneaux to score in the 57th minute. George Billam kicked the conversion. Bedford Athletic re-established their superiority five minutes later when from a quick tap penalty deep in their own half they carried play deep into Paviors territory with Josh Cassell marauding down the left wing. Several phases later and hooker Liam Walsh burst through the centre of the ruck to score under the posts, Mortimer’s conversion extending the lead to 50-12. Paviors’ resistance ended in the 68th minute when full back Matt Molyneaux was red carded for a head high tackle on Charlie Darlow and Bedford Athletic surged forward from a series of penalties to secure a second try of the day from Sawford-Smith. The conversion from James Mortimer took him to 366 points for the season thereby equalling the club record for the most points scored in a season previously held by Ashley Tapper in the NPI Cup winning season of 1997-98. This also brought the scoring to a close in a game long since over as a contest.

The win keeps Bedford Athletic one point ahead of Syston at the top of the Midlands One East league table. The Easter weekend sees the Bedfordshire Cup Final at Biggleswade on Good Friday, then Bedford Athletic travel to Peterborough on 7th April before what may well be a league decider at home to Syston on Saturday 14th April with a 3pm kick off at Putnoe Wood.