Longton 20 Bedford Athletic 5

Bedford Athletic fought hard before going down 20 points to 5 away to Longton.

In the face of adversity the visitors were determined and stuck to their task manfully but in the end had nothing to show for their afternoon’s work.

From the kick off the referee issued a string of penalties against the visitors and it became inevitable that these would end with a penalty try on 6 minutes, Jone Nabetelebu converting. The same player was also on hand to intercept Athletics’ first meaningful attack of the game and race the length of the pitch for an interception try that he also converted. Longton led 14-0 with barely ten minutes played. Bedford Athletic were struggling to find any rhythm in the match, hampered by a stream of penalties going against them and some wayward kicking which deprived them of both possession and territory. The penalties were always going to eventually lead to another score and Nabetelebu kicked one on 23 minutes. Bedford Athletic had their first penalty of the afternoon on 26 minutes. This led to an attacking lineout but they were initially driven back by some uncomprising defence. When play broke up Stephen Woodhead was on hand to break through the line and Josh Cassell finished off the move, the referee finding no reason not to award the try. The conversion was missed. Athletics’ second penalty of the day arrived in the 36th minute but this time they missed a kick to touch meaning they ended the first half in defence and 17-5 behind.

A promising move at the start of the second half saw Bedford Athletic spread the ball at pace across the field but they were soon halted with another penalty awarded against them and a regular supply of penalties kept Longton very much in control of the game. Bedford Athletic worked hard in defence to keep their line intact and their third and fourth penalties on 46 and 55 minutes might have allowed them to lift the siege but a knock on and a poor clearance kick kept them in their own half. As the game went on the penalties began to subside and this allowed the visitors to start to threaten, strong carries from Josh McCann and Tommy Mills and great support play from Jake Foster began to create chances in their hosts half. However when Mills nearly had his head ripped off in a tackle, Longton were able to turn the ball over and escape upfield from where they were again awarded a penalty that allowed Nabetelebu to make the game safe with the only score of the second half. In the final five minutes Bedford Athletic were awarded three penalties and much to Longton’s amazement Vilikesa Wara received a yellow card for persistent infringing but Bedford Athletic were not accurate enough with the possession to finish off a score and so the game ended in a 20 point to five defeat.

Bedford Athletic will feel relieved that the referee was satisfied that penalties were sufficient punishment for them over the course of the afternoon and that therefore there are no further disciplinary issues to take into this Saturday’s game at home to league leaders Nuneaton at Putnoe Wood which kicks off at 2.15pm.