A spirited comeback was not enough as Bedford Athletic went down 25-19 at Dorking.
Trailing 22-0 at half time the visitors dominated the second half of proceedings but eventually came up just short as the two sides shared six tries.
The first half was a bleak affair for the visitors typified by the start they made. It took just 90 seconds for JP Alberts to race through their defence for the opening try as tackling took on an optional appearance. Killian Wilson added the conversion before Dorking scored another easy try from first phase possession as their centres broke the Athletic line at will from a set scrum, with Ryan Jeffrey touching down in the 12th minute, Wilson’s conversion making it 14-0. Athletic had a few half chances. Leo Mortimer missed with a long range penalty on 16 minutes and Steve Smith missed a penalty kick to touch minutes later in what turned out to be the visitor’s only foray into the home 22 in the first period. Instead it took a superb last ditch interception by Josh Cassell to halt the scoring although Wilson added another penalty on 33 minutes. Concerted pressure at the end of the half seemed to put a nail in the Bedford Athletic coffin even at this early stage as Jeffrey again went over for a try, this time unconverted but which did secure a comfortable 22-0 lead for the hosts at half time.
The second half started in completely different fashion. Suddenly Bedford Athletic were able to cut out the errors, secure their own possession and get on top of their own indiscipline. As a result chances began to come. Josh Cassell led a break down the left wing and when the ball was recycled at pace across the field it was Stephen Woodhead who put Josh McCann over for the opening score on 45 minutes. Three minutes later and Steve Smith led the break and then finished the move that resulted in the second try with Mortimer’s conversion making the score 22-12. Suddenly the game was dominated by the visitors as they played with a pace and a purpose. A free kick at a scrum saw Tom Orton speed the ball away for Cassell to get outside the defence and then be on hand to finish his own try on 58 minutes, Mortimer’s conversion making the score 22-19. Dorking woke up and exerted pressure of their own with Wilson kicking another penalty on 64 minutes. They then looked like they would press for a bonus point try but a great turnover steal by Ryan Taylor halted their progress and in the end it was Bedford Athletic who finished the game on top looking for the winning score. A scrum from a penalty in front of the posts with two minutes to go looked the perfect opportunity but the visitors were penalised and Dorking held on for the win.
Bedford Athletic return to action this Saturday when they host Brighton at Putnoe Wood with a 3pm kick off.