CS Stags 29 Bedford Athletic 15

Bedford Athletic fell to defeat on the banks of the Thames going down 29-15 at CS Stags.

In an inconsistent performance they were outscored by 5 tries to 2 and at times seemed to lack energy and focus with scoring chances missed and soft tries conceded.

The opening exchanges typified much of the first half as the visitors twice ran the ball from defence, twice were turned over and eventually conceded a 5 metre scrum which allowed Stags a pushover try in the fourth minute touched down by scrum half Adam Nixon and converted by fly half Alex Edwards. Bedford Athletic responded ten minutes later when Steve Smith created space for Josh Cassell to speed down the left wing for the side’s opening try. Moments later Cassell was sin binned for a deliberate knock on, a strange refereeing decision given that he permitted three similar offences by Stags during the game without similar sanction. Stags found the resulting vacant space to send full back Harry Vidler over for an unconverted try and could have had another when they broke the line again only for Smith to haul the attacker down under the posts and remarkably effect the turnover at the ruck. However a wayward first half performance ended with unnecessary penalties being conceded allowing Stags to kick to the corner and trundle a rolling maul over the line, Tom Proctor touching down for a 17-5 half time lead to the hosts.

Bedford Athletic started the second half with much greater purpose and soon worked Stephen Woodhead clear and he outpaced two defenders to score in the corner, Leo Mortimer adding a superb touchline conversion in the 43rd minute. Five minutes later he added another penalty when another Smith break put the hosts under pressure to narrow the gap to 17-15. Stags could have had a try in response when the defence opened up to let Edwards through but a great cover tackle by Cassell saved a certain try. It took two refereeing errors to give Stags their fourth try. First he failed to spot a wheeled scrum by the hosts and then from the lineout drive following the penalty kick to touch he allowed Stags players to illegally join a maul resulting in a questionable score by James Buncle. In response the visitors had a long period of pressure but when the scoring chance finally came unfortunately Woodhead dropped the final pass which would have seen a certain try. When Stags did eventually clear their lines a further dropped ball in the Athletic 22 gave Stags a scrum from which they hammered through the visitor’s defence for Proctor to score the fifth try rather against the run of play, Edwards converting. Athletic tried hard to get something from the match in the final ten minutes without creating any further clear cut chances and Stags also had time to miss with a further penalty kick at goal.

Another away defeat is a concern for the side but at the half way stage of the season they sit three points and two places above the relegation zone. The run in begins at home to Tring on Saturday at Putnoe Wood with a 3pm kick off.