Chingford 30 Bedford Athletic 32

Bedford Athletic clinched a crucial away victory at Chingford triumphing by 32 points to 30.

In a match between two sides in the bottom three at the start of play, this bonus point victory moves Bedford Athletic out of the relegation places for the first time this season.

Bedford Athletic were on the scoresheet first when a well placed kick from Tom Orton allowed wing Josh Cassell to dive on the ball and touch down for the first try in the fifth minute. With the kicking tee having been misplaced Leo Mortimer missed the conversion kick at goal, a mistake that nearly came back to haunt the side later! Chingford rallied and with the visitors twice offside in defence, Scott Meakin kicked them into a 6-5 lead. Having regained the tee, Leo Mortimer restored the Bedford Athletic lead when a Nick Thomas break led to a Chingford offside penalty. The visitor’s discipline failed to improve and several further kickable penalties were turned down as the home side tried to force their way over the visitor’s line. Eventually a quick tap penalty did the damage, the ball being spread wide for winger David Duffus to cross for an unconverted try on 20 minutes. Bedford Athletic responded, Mortimer levelling scores with a penalty and then a try following a mazy run from Josh Cassell turning three defenders inside out before he sped away to the line, Mortimer converting for an 18-11 lead. Discipline was still lacking and when prop Ben Thompson was sin binned for the visitor’s fifth offside offence Chingford opted for a close range scrum. With Josh Smith introduced at prop the seven man Bedford Athletic scrum drove their hosts off the ball, won a penalty and the danger was cleared. Josh Porter was then sin binned for a high tackle on Stephen Woodhead which negated the home side’s man advantage and left the visitors leading at half time.

The second half started at a frenetic pace and following several turnovers Chingford camped themselves on the Athletic line. After a series of pick and go drives the Chingford forwards touched down on the Athletic line with Meakin converting to level the scores. Chingford continued to press but the match turned as they for once spun the ball down their back line only to see wing Cassell cut in, intercept and race the length of the field for a try on 50 minutes. Mortimer again converted and Bedford Athletic started to have the better of the game. Picking up the pace they breached the home defence and off loads from Liam Walsh and Ben Middleton saw Orton touch down under the posts on 58 minutes. The conversion made it 32-18 but immediately Chingford were offered a lifeline when a pass was intercepted and switching play to the left wing, Joshua Noah went through a disorganised defence to score. A missed conversion meant there were still two scores in the game. Bedford Athletic could have tied the game up as both James Yates and Cassell were over the line but were pulled back for forward passes. Instead with eight minutes to go Bedford Athletic squandered possession from an attacking scrum and were forced on the defensive. They were fortunate to survive a definite try when Chingford pounced on a slap back steal from a lineout that the referee was unsighted for and profited further when Chingford forward Luke Stack was still so incensed at the next scrum that having called the referee a cheat he was yellow carded. They could not defend their line to the end, Josh Cassell being sinbinned and the team allowing Noah a further try with a minute to go that Meakins converted to create a two point gap. Bedford Athletic were penalised from the kick off to allow Chingford back into their half and penalised again from a series of phases following the lineout to allow Meakins a kick to win the match from 45 metres. The kick fell short and Bedford Athletic were able to celebrate a vital away win.

A first win of the year should give the team some momentum before the next game at home to Dorking on Saturday, kick off 2pm, in order to stay out of the relegation places.