CS Stags 1863 47 Bedford Athletic 19

CS Stags recorded a convincing 47-19 win at home to visitors Bedford Athletic.

Although CS Stags were comfortable winners the visitors were left to reflect on an extraordinary refereeing performance in which they were awarded no penalties at any stage of the eighty-minute encounter and therefore struggled to take the initiative at any point of the match.

CS Stags secured the kick off and subjected the visitors to a bombardment of possession rugby for the first five minutes. Eventually the resistance broke and a missed tackle allowed home scrum half Adam Nixon to burst through the defence and touch down for the first try converted by Stags fly half Tom Hodgson. Stags returned the favour almost instantly as a missed tackle in their back line allowed Harry Sawford-Smith the opportunity to saunter through for the visitor’s opening try converted by Leo Mortimer. In the 12th minute Bedford Athletic took the lead when Josh Cassell cut through the defence to open the space for Stephen Woodhead to score, Mortimer’s conversion extending the lead to 14-7. Bedford Athletic then had an early taster of Mr. Lamb’s approach to the afternoon when Josh Cassell was sin binned for a deliberate knock on despite Stags conceding only a scrum for exactly the same offence 90 seconds earlier. Stags made the extra man pay when they ran back a clearing box kick setting up the position for hooker Josh Forrester to dot down, Hodgson’s conversion levelling matters. CS Stags now asserted their authority on the game with replacement James Houston going over in the corner on 25 minutes and hooker Forrester securing the bonus point with a dart to the line on the half hour as the visitor’s struggled to contain wave after wave of the home side’s pressure. Stags were sweeping forward and their momentum was undoubtedly assisted by a stream of penalties against the visitors which meant that Stags remained on the front foot. The referee was not at fault for the fifth try when from a defensive lineout a clearance kicked was charged down and prop forward Nick Lovell dotted down although having been successful with two earlier conversions Hodgson missed on this occasion to leave the score at 33-14. Stags had opportunities to score again when the referee deemed a 50 yard break ended only by a knock on at the line insufficient advantage and brought back play for a further penalty only for the game to subsequently reach half time.

Bedford Athletic did their best to get on the front foot at the start of the second half but it took them ten minutes to score as Stags continued to get the benefit of the doubt when it came to knock ons and forward passes. Steve Smith found space and he and Rob Watkins combined to put Liam Walsh into the corner for a try that narrowed the score to 33-19. Bedford Athletic continued to plug away and a mazy run from Sawford-Smith might have led to a try but ended in a knock on in the home 22 and they then suffered a further set back when a missed tackle from a set scrum allowed Stags space to break and wing Zach Stamp touched down on 57 minutes with Hodgson converting. As Bedford Athletic continued to face adversity at every level Andy Ince nearly secured a bonus point try but he knocked on just short of the line and Stags had the final say when they ran the length of the field and despite a couple of forward passes were allowed the last try with Matt Pollen’s score converted by Hodgson. Final credit though must go to CS Stags as throughout the game they were deemed never to be offside, never to tackle high or late, never to infringe at the ruck, never to play the ball on the ground, never to wheel the scrum and never to illegally slow any of Bedford Athletics’ ball whatsoever in what must be from a referee’s point of view a flawless display.

Bedford Athletic travel to Chingford on Saturday for their next league game looking forward to being allowed to take part in a contest that kicks off at 2.00pm.