Bedford Athletic 69 Wellingborough 8

Bedford Athletic secured the Midlands One East title with a 69 points to 8 victory over Wellingborough.

In a match that they totally dominated Bedford Athletic outscored their visitors by 10 tries to one in a game that not only revealed their superiority over the course of the season but gave credibility to the target set by the coaches to the team following the defeat by Syston in December to conclude the season unbeaten.

Early efforts paid off for Bedford Athletic as James Wallace stole a lineout and having set up play in the Wellingborough 22, David Simpson barged over for the opening try. James Mortimer converting. Not to be outdone Wellingborough went on to dominate the next period of play. From a lineout, speedy distribution of the ball saw Kieran Checkley score down the left wing. Although Pete Vickers missed the conversion, a penalty in the 17th minute saw Wellingborough take an 8-7 lead. Mortimer kicked a penalty on 20 minutes to restore the Bedford Athletic lead to 10-8 and then a series of attacks saw Bedford Athletic take control of the match. From the kick off Bedford Athletic found space down the left wing and Josh Cassell exploited this to set up the scoring chance for Charlie Darlow. A calculated move from an attacking lineout saw Stephen Woodhead score on 28 minutes on his 150th appearance. Then Harry Sawford Smith found himself in possession from the kick off and waltzed through the visiting defence for the bonus point try. He scored again in the 39th minute following a spell in which Wellingborough had threatened but stern defence had kept them at bay. A combination of strong defence and an ability to take their chances when they arose saw Bedford Athletic lead 38-8 at half time.

This dominance was emphasised on 42 minutes when Bedford Athletic attacked at speed down the right wing and a wondrous offload from Woodhead saw Josh Cassell cross for the first of his three tries. Mortimer kicked a sublime conversion from the touchline for a 45-8 lead. Cassell finished off the next try which Mortimer did not convert leaving the home side 50-8 ahead with half an hour to go. The next try saw Tom Orton exploit a significant gap in the visiting defence for a try to mark his 200th appearance for the club. Mortimer’s conversion saw Bedford Athletic lead 57-8. The referee’s increasing influence on the game now started to have some effect. With the home side trying to play at a pace that neither he nor the visitors could cope with, scoring chances tended to be lost with the intervention of Wellingborough’s offside or lazy runners and frustration began to build. This meant quick ball was rarely an option and Bedford Athletic had to resort to the scrummage to maintain the superiority of their play. A centrefield scrum did lead to a try for Josh Cassell on the hour mark, Mortimer converting, but a particularly muscular period of play saw the referee increasingly losing control on proceedings. He yellow carded James Wallace who had clearly stolen the opposition ball when on his feet and he had to sit out the next 12 (!) minutes. His inability to read the scrum nearly resulted in a serious injury for the Bedford Athletic tight head John Clarke when Wellingborough drove in on the angle at the next scrum. Bedford Athletics’ ascendancy saw them score the 10th and final try of the day on 76 minutes when Charlie Darlow muscled his way over the line and the referee’s loss of control of the match was summed up in the fact that he blew up four minutes before full time to bring the game to an early conclusion.

This game sees not only a league title for the team, but also a record 235 tries in a season and a +997 points difference in league action. The season will conclude with an East Midlands Cup Final against Peterborough Lions on Wednesday 2nd May at Goldington Road.