Bedford Athletic annihilated their hosts Old Northamptonians in a 61-15 victory.
In a performance full of pace and physicality they overwhelmed the Northampton based side that had led the league earlier in the season by nine tries to two, the only negative being that the scoreline should have been higher.
Bedford Athletic set out their stall early with the first try coming from breaking the home line and allowing Jake Foster to finish the score from distance. James Mortimer converted in the 4th minute. The pace was a little frenetic in the early stages allowing the game to become error prone and Old Northamptonians took advantage to kick their first penalty of the day in the 9th minute. Bedford Athletic were gaining the better of the tight exchanges but were not altogether convincing in possession and the second try did not arrive until the 19th minute when Andy Ince pounced on turnover ball in the centre of the field and made yards before releasing the backs who finished the score through David Simpson. Mortimer converted this try and the third on 25 minutes when a kick ahead down the right wing was chased hard by Josh Cassell and he touched down first for his 50th try for the 1st XV. This extended the Bedford Athletic lead to 19-3. Although the hosts missed a penalty shortly thereafter the dominance still came from the away side who spurned a number of chances. One cross field kick from Mortimer was expertly kept in play by Andy Ince but the covering defence just managed to bundle play into touch. This profligacy in attack was to have consequences when a series of penalties were conceded allowing the home side to advance to a 5 metre lineout at the end of the half. James Mortimer was yellow carded having been adjudged to illegally halt a home attack with a ruck offence and although the visiting forward pack continued to repel the home team eventually they realised the space was in the backs. Mike Bellamy scored out wide with the conversion making the 19-10 score at half time narrower than the flow of the game had suggested.
Bedford Athletic expertly managed their man disadvantage at the start of the second half driving a maul 20 metres with the resulting collapse evening up the numbers, Guy Holt being sent to the sin bin for the home side. Now playing downhill and with the wind behind them the bonus point try arrived on 49 minutes, Josh McCann bursting onto a wave of pacy attacks around the corner of the ruck to touch down. Mortimer had returned, kicked the conversion and was not to miss again in the game as he amassed 16 points. Two minutes later the backs returned the kick off, Stephen Woodhead arcing around the defence to release Josh Cassell down the left touchline to score. Two minutes after that Charlie Darlow blasted through a string of weak tackles and stretched the lead to 40-10. Bedford Athletic were combining their strength in attack with a pressure in defence that not only stifled home efforts but invariably led to turnover ball. When prop Josh Smith found himself meandering in acres of space on the hour mark he was grateful to offload to Woodhead who cut the perfect line to run under the posts. A sin binning for McCann might have halted matters but the home side were a beaten team now. Darlow and Cassell should have combined for a further score down the left wing and then the home side contrived to concede possession from a scrum in their own 22 allowing scrum half Tom Orton to finish the try on 70 minutes. Old Northamptonians did manage a period of sustained possession that allowed No.8 Drew Hudson to outstrip the defence for a score but the final try was all about the pace of the Bedford Athletic backline as Stephen Woodhead outran the defence to score with Mortimer’s conversion taking the side over 60.
Still leading the division by three points from Syston, Bedford Athletic host Oundle on Saturday with a 2.15pm kick off at Putnoe Wood.