A spirited performance was not enough from Bedford Athletic as they went down 27-23 at Old Halesonians.
In an encounter where they contributed more of the free flowing and attractive rugby they were nevertheless outscored by four tries to three and once again only had a losing bonus point to show for their efforts.
The opening quarter of the match captured the frustration of Bedford Athletics’ season to date. They overcame the loss of captain Rob Watkins in the first minute to launch several penetrating attacks at their opponents line but never quite had the application or execution to finish them off. An early chance went begging when a break from Josh Cassell created an overlap wide on the right but a poorly executed final pass went forward and Stephen Woodhead was prevented from scoring the first try of the day. Minutes later it was Ben Reed and Nick Thomas who broke through the home defence only to misplace the final pass to which the home full back got a hand. Once they relieved the pressure Old Halesonians set up a series of pick and drives in the visitor’s 22 and finally from a scrum No.8 Steve Leach was able to pick up and score. Bedford Athletic ended the first quarter having dominated the game 7-0 down. They did get their just reward minutes later when Steve Smith broke the line and David Simpson’s kick ahead was touched down by Charlie Darlow. However the kick off was lost and again Old Halesonians were able to attack through the middle of the park, on this occasion they eventually got the ball wide to wing Luke Smith who scored in the corner. James Mortimer pulled the lead back to 12-8 with a penalty but Bedford Athletic lost concentration from the kick off and having not cleared their lines, Old Halesonians made their pressure tell when Leach picked up from the base of the scrum to score the home side’s third try. Old Halesonians led 19-8 at half time.
The early pressure and territory all went to Bedford Athletic in the second half and eventually from a quickly taken lineout Steven Smith scored in the corner. Bedford Athletic failed to execute an exit strategy from the kick off but this time they held out well to thwart the home side’s power game. Matters seemed to be swinging in their favour when they stole a lineout throw in the 56th minute and quickly spread the ball across the field with Charlie Darlow barrelling through the home defence and releasing Stuart Livesey to the line for their third try. Mortimer converted and Bedford Athletic had established a one point lead at 20-19. Old Halesonians returned to the attack and although their forward power plays were again repelled this time they opened play up from an attacking scrum to send wing Jay Reid over in the corner. Bedford Athletic replied with a penalty from Mortimer to narrow the gap to 24-23 and with 12 minutes to go Old Halesonians replied in kind, Ian Briggs kicking a penalty for a 27-23 lead. Bedford Athletic then threw everything they had into the final minutes to try and secure the win. Cassell and Livesey appeared to have escaped down the left wing but were pulled back just short of the line and with hooker Ben Reed off the field injured, Bedford Athletic were lacking set piece stability at a crucial time. So the winning score never came and the visitors were left with their tenth losing bonus point of the campaign as scant consolation.
Bedford Athletic will aim to transfer losing bonus points into wins when they entertain Peterborough Lions at Putnoe Wood this Saturday with a 2.15pm kick off.