Bedford Athletic won their third away game in a row in Midlands One East with a 25 points to 3 victory at Huntingdon.
At a ground that has proved a difficult venue in the past, the weather proved to be the most daunting factor as it forced the side to rely on their forward prowess with the wet conditions making fluent back play a tough challenge.
With the rain teeming down at kick off and not letting up for very long thereafter, Bedford Athletic did well to ensure they dominated territory in the opening stages. Although clear cut scoring chances were few and far between, the side did take the points when they were on offer with James Mortimer kicking penalties in the 6th and 11th minutes. With a 6-0 lead Bedford Athletic attempted to become more adventurous in their play. This proved only to make them more error prone and Huntingdon nearly exploited this in the 20th minute. A missed tackle allowed a Huntingdon break and when it was halted metres from the visitor’s line, captain Rob Watkins was deemed to have done so illegally and was dispatched to the sin bin for ten minutes. Tad Chapman kicked the penalty to narrow the gap to 6-3. Bedford Athletic coped well with the man disadvantage and in fact were by now becoming dominant in most facets of the game, particularly the scrum where time and time again they drove Huntingdon off their own ball and in the line out. With five minutes of the half to play Mortimer had another long distance penalty and although it hit the post, the home side did not clear play very far and when Jake Foster broke to the line from the subsequent lineout, it was just a case of passing accuracy to find prop Tony Moliterno in the corner to dive over for his first try for the first XV.
An 11-3 lead at half time gave the visitors breathing space and although they were playing uphill in the second half, the rain had also briefly stopped allowing for a faster game. Relentless pressure eventually saw Nick Thomas break through the centre of a ruck and when the ball was recycled at the next tackle, winger Stephen Woodhead was in support to cross for his seventh try of the campaign. Mortimer converted and he converted the next try as well when Harry Sawford-Smith ran a good line to set Josh Cassell free to extend the lead to 25-3 on 52 minutes. Bedford Athletic were now totally dominant but when the referee awarded a debatable penalty against them for crossing they had to prove their mettle in defence as well holding out a series of attacks by Huntingdon on their own line. With strong carries from Thomas, Watkins and John Clarke in particular the pressure was lifted and in the final ten minutes the visitors went in search of the bonus point try. This never quite arrived with the rain falling heavily once again the side were always just one pass or knock on away from fashioning a further score.
Bedford Athletic finally have a home game when they entertain last season’s league runners up and play off finalists Kettering at Putnoe Woods on Saturday with a 3pm kick off.