Bedford Athletic lost their first outing in the Papa Johns Regional One Plate 37-36 at Maidenhead. It was a match in which they had enough chances to win but in the end a lack of composure in attack and cohesion in defence left them with two bonus points instead.
Early pressure saw Bedford Athletic take the lead through a Leo Mortimer penalty. They were fortunate not to concede the first try of the day as Maidenhead burst through the last line of defence but dropped the ball. Instead it was Bedford Athletic who struck first. Stringing together phases in attack it was Luke Denham who provided the pace and the power to burst through the home defence for a try converted by Mortimer for a 10-0 lead inside the first ten minutes. The home side responded with pressure of their own and having forced Bedford Athletic into a defensive error, they took advantage of a couple of attacking scrums to run through a series of phases close to the visitor’s line with blindside flanker Daniel Hostetler emerging with the try. Bedford Athletic returned to the attack but although they won a scrum penalty, the subsequent lineout was overthrown which inadvertently launched a Maidenhead attack from their own 22. Several phases later the home side had pierced the visiting defence for a try to winger Scott Prince which full back James Maddern converted for a 12-10 lead. Maidenhead were starting to dominate possession and shortly after their second score a third arrived when from a midfield scrum Maidenhead attacked with pace and purpose down their left wing and overran the defence for a try to left wing Alex Turton. Thanks to a renewed competitiveness from the visiting defence gradually the tide turned. A series of phases close to the home line ended with a turnover penalty and the next opportunity nearly saw Luke Denham over the line but a flat pass led to a knock on over the line. Nevertheless the away side won a scrum penalty, kicked to touch and the forwards mauled their way over the line for a try to Liam Walsh. Mortimer converted to tie the scores up at 17-all at half time.
An unnecessary trip at the start of the second half gave the home side a penalty inside the Bedford Athletic half and putting a kick deep into the visiting 22 the home hooker spun off the resulting maul to score his side’s bonus point try which was converted in the 42nd minute. The visiting response was instantaneous as Andy Ince won the ball, broke the defence and charged over the line from twenty metres which once converted by Mortimer proved the equalising score. Ince was at the heart of the action moments later winning another turnover which set wing Kieran Farrer free. The move was carried on by full back Joel Davies and once the support arrived the ball was fed quickly to Luke Denham who sped over for the Bedford Athletic bonus point try. Critically as it turned out the conversion hit the post and Bedford Athletic led 29-24. Immediately Maidenhead scored again when from a scrum just inside their opponent’s half, Maidenhead attacked with pace and purpose down their left wing and overran the defence for a try to left wing Alex Turton. Maddern converted for a 31-29 lead with half an hour to play. He was on target again with a penalty chance but thereafter it was all Bedford Athletic. A charge down saw Joel Davies clear but unable to ground a difficult bouncing ball on the hour mark. Maidenhead should have had a yellow card for a deliberate knock on as the visitors charged down the right wing. The resultant lineout led to a penalty and an injudicious quick tap which saw an overlap spurned and the ball thrown into touch. James Wallace won the ball back at the lineout but then from the subsequent drive Nick Thomas was held up over the line. Maidenhead cleared and made Bedford Athletic pay for their profligacy when they kicked a further penalty through Maddern on 76 minutes. From the kick off Bedford Athletic turned the ball over once more and won a penalty five metres from the home line. Man of the match Andy Ince took a quick tap and scored, the conversion putting the final score at 37-36.
A try bonus point and a losing bonus point leaves Bedford Athletic in contention in the group prior to the visit of Tunbridge Wells in two weeks time to Putnoe Wood, kick off 3pm.