Bedford Athletic held on to defeat Medway for a gritty away win by 20 points to 15. In a match in the Kent sunshine that was largely devoid of inspiration, the visitors scored two quick tries in the second half to pull away and then hold on for victory.
Medway created the first scoring opportunity with a break from centre Oliver Newton carried on by no.8 Jordan Stubbington leading to a successful penalty kick at goal by full back Jack Cohen on 8 minutes. Bedford Athletic worked their way back into the game thanks to some astute tactical kicking from fly half Leo Mortimer which set up several attacking lineouts in the home 22. The first two of these opportunities were missed as a result of wayward throws but on the third occasion the visitors secured possession and a break by Jake Foster got them across the gain line, leading to an equalising penalty kick from Mortimer on 20 minutes. The following kick off was poorly defended by the visiting side with the ball going straight to left wing Alfie Orris but Medway failed to make the most of the opportunity and when the ball was turned over it was Bedford Athletics’ opportunity to advance again and a further penalty from Mortimer extended the lead to 6-3. The kick off was once again not well defended, and a poor clearance kick to touch invited Medway pressure. The defenceheld up well but at the expense of conceding further penalties, Cohen converting a further one of these to tie the scores at six points apiece. Again an error from the Bedford Athletic restart saw the ball kicked straight out of play from the kick off, returning possession and territory to the home side. Once again Bedford Athletic held firm in defence frustrating several rolling mauls and close in driving play from the home forwards until a cross field kick from fly half Max Bullock created a chance on the left wing for Cohen. A clash of heads ended the chance, finishing Cohen’s game and resulting in a yellow card for visiting winger Luke Denham. This time it was Bullock who stepped up to kick the penalty and give his side a 9 points to 6 half time lead.
The visitors began the second half on the front foot but with centre Oli Petrides now off the field injured, their play in the backs was disjointed and lacking accuracy. They did win an early penalty but this was pushed just wide by Mortimer. Instead, with the visitors struggling to turn possession into any form of pressure it was Medway who appeared to be gaining the ascendancy. They extended their lead with a penalty from Bullock on 51 minutes and had broken down a Bedford Athletic attack when a stray kick went to Kieran Farrer on the right wing, he collected, sped round his man and counter attacked for a try from fully 50 metres out. Leo Mortimer converted for an unlikely 13-12 lead. Immediately the visiting side found more fluency and with better pace on the attack they created space out wide for the returning Denham to cut a fantastic line and wrong foot three defenders to score. Mortimer’s conversion extended the lead to 20-12 in the 58th minute. Both sides continued to struggle to impose themselves on the game and an unnecessary offside decision in the 71stminute handed Medway their fifth penalty chance with a successful Bullock kick making it 20-15. The final minutes were destined to hand the home side multiple attacking opportunities. Eventually they set up an attacking scrum in the visitors 22 and shredded their forward pack advancing ten metres toward the tryline. Choosing another scrum from the resultant further penalty award this time the tables were turned as props Lewis Ager and Ryan Taylor drove through their opposite numbers, and won the penalty that clinched the victory.
The win coming in their 700th league match, moves Bedford Athletic into the top half of the Regional One South East table and they will reach the midpoint of the campaign at home to in-form fourth place side Tunbridge Wells in two weeks time, the match at Putnoe Wood kicking off at 3pm.