Bedford Athletic ground out a deserved win away to Lutterworth by 28 points to 17.
On a day when the weather conditions made a marked difference to the game, Bedford Athletic battled their way to a try bonus point in a 4 tries to 3 victory.
With a strong breeze blowing across the pitch the impact was immediate as the starting kick-off sailed directly into touch and then the first three line outs were all taken by the opposition. Lutterworth had the best of the early territory but the pressure was relieved by a strong run from full-back Stephen Woodhead who carried play deep into the home side’s half.
The visitors did have scoring chances in the first 20 minutes but the final passes were a little too rushed and unsympathetic meaning that try opportunities for both Ryan Taylor and Josh Cassell ended in knock-ons. There was no scoring at all in the first half-hour. Lutterworth scored first when a penalty kick at goal fell short but the chase from the clearance kick by the visitors was disorganised and the home side cut through, with winger George Ball and scrum-half Conor Warburton combining down the right-wing for a try eventually scored under the posts, fly-half Luke Ball converting.
Bedford Athletic’s response was immediate as the forwards dominated. James Wallace and Tom Allwright were imposing at the line out and it was from a penalty kick to touch and then a line out catch and drive that the visitors responded with the try scored by Ryan Taylor, remarkable in itself as he had popped a rib out minutes into the game.
Bedford Athletic was dealing with the conditions and any forays Lutterworth had into their half with a strategic kicking game and it was from a successful 50:22 kick by Woodhead that the platform was laid for the second try. Again the lineout was converted into a successful drive and once more the beneficiary was Taylor who went over for his second try which added to by Mortimer’s conversion curling just inside the post gave Bedford Athletic a 14-7 halftime lead.
The theme continued at the start of the second half with penalties giving Bedford Athletic position inside the home 22 and then with Wallace soaring high to claim the catch the forwards rumbling forward and eventually Tom Allwright crashing over the line for his first try for the club which together with Mortimer’s unerring conversion advanced the lead to 21-7. Lutterworth hit back and from a midfield scrum on the visitor’s 22 no.8 Josh Connor was able to pick up and breach the visiting defence laying the platform for scrum half Warburton to score.
Bedford Athletic drove back at their hosts once more and in similar fashion to the previous try a sensible throw to the front of the lineout set up the drive from which Allwright once again touched down for the bonus point try on 49 minutes, Mortimer converting. There followed a sustained period of pressure on the visiting defence which did really well to hold out, Josh Walker leading the way with any number of defensive tackles. It was disappointing then once the opportunity came to attack that Bedford Athletic overplayed and ended up throwing an intercept pass. This allowed the home side to counterattack the length of the field and to set up a position under the visiting posts from which second row Keiran Hussey dived over and scored with eight minutes remaining.
The conversion kick was blown off the tee and the subsequent dropkick attempt missed. This ended the scoring but there was still time for Ryan Taylor to attempt his try hat-trick as a trundle to the line was pulled down just short and he was penalised for a double movement. Lutterworth had a chance too again from turnover ball but this was snuffed out by a well won a turnover penalty by Ben Thompson.
The win leaves Bedford Athletic 18 points clear at the top of the table with eight matches left to play and this Saturday they travel to Peterborough Lions for a rearranged fixture kicking off at 2.15 pm.