Bedford Athletic 65 Oundle 17

Bedford Athletic made it ten wins from ten league matches with a 65-17 success against Oundle.

In a performance that was at times totally dominant and at others lacking precision and execution, the match will ultimately be remembered for James Mortimer successfully surpassing the points record for the 1st XV in the modern era, with his 5 conversions taking him to a career record 1,378 points ahead of Ashley Tapper’s 1,376.

The first two tries both arrived from cross field kicks delivered by Mortimer with first Liam Walsh and then Charlie Darlow benefitting for a 10-0 lead on 7 minutes. Bedford Athletics’ control of the kick off was a problem throughout the game and following Darlow’s try the home side conceded possession and it took a well executed lineout steal and a well timed interception by Josh Cassell to relieve the pressure as he raced away for a try from 80 metres in the 15th minute. Mortimer converted but Athletic once again were ineffective from the kick off and had to survive another bout of away pressure. They dealt with this reasonably well, the turning point coming when they pushed Oundle off their own scrum ball and then attacked the length of the field, David Simpson identifying the space and line to dart away for the bonus point try on 25 minutes. Mortimer converted for a 24-0 lead. Penalties against the home side continued to mount and this kept Oundle with both enough territory and possession to effect the game. A clearance kick was well fielded by Oundle and a series of penetrating attacks were eventually finished off by Will Carrington hitting a sharp line through the defence, Gabriel Smithson converting in the 32nd minute. Oundle continued to attack but strong home defence kept them out and when Stephen Woodhead caught and marked a cross field kick, Athletic relieved the pressure with a strong run of their own up field, Woodhead the eventual beneficiary of the space created for the try, Bedford Athletic leading 29-7 at half time.

If the final twenty minutes of the first half had been a contest, the first twenty minutes of the second half were not. James Wallace set the standard with a strong carry in the opening seconds of the half and wave after wave then battered the visiting line before Ryan Taylor squeezed over. His try went unconverted but Josh Cassell’s second try of the day did not as James Mortimer’s conversion opened up a 41-7 lead. Bedford Athletic were now dominant in all phases of the game, both set piece and in the loose and were almost at liberty to choose the next attacking platform. Stephen Woodhead ran a fine inside line from a lineout in the 51st minute, a try that Mortimer converted to equal the 1st XV scoring record, and in the 57th minute Josh Cassell completed his hat trick breaking through the final despairing tackles to extend the lead to 53-7. In a match that was punctuated far too often by the referee’s whistle, 24 penalties but no yellow cards being awarded, Oundle then staged a mini revival. A couple of errors in the home defence allowed Oundle to run the ball wide and Will Carrington finished off a move in the corner that went unconverted. The game then drifted for the next ten minutes or so before Oundle again broke out of defence and scored from a long kick ahead that was chased down by the left wing James Keane, aided by the fact that he pushed the home full back out of the way to touch the ball down. Oundle may have had thoughts of the bonus point try on 70 minutes but Bedford Athletic finished the stronger. A midfield scrum once again had the visitors back pedalling and this opened up space for Josh Cassell to score his fourth try of the day in the left hand corner and in the final minutes turnover ball delivered the moment the crowd had been waiting for as Harry Sawford-Smith charged through for the try under the posts and James Mortimer kicked the conversion that makes him the leading first XV points scorer since the leagues began in 1987.

There is a break from league action this Saturday and instead Bedford Athletic will travel to Stockwood Park on Thursday evening to start their defence of the Bedfordshire Cup.