Bedford Athletic earned a hard fought victory by 45 points to 10 at Oundle.
In a match that was well contested for an hour their fitness, organisation in defence and power in attack eventually shone through with three tries in the final quarter of the game sealing victory.
The game started well for the visiting team and they were quickly on the front foot with two tries in the opening ten minutes. Powerful runs through the centre of the field paid dividends as this opened the space out wide for two early scores, firstly from Stuart Livesey on five minutes and then from Harry Sawford-Smith three minutes later. Both tries were expertly converted from the touch line by James Mortimer and Bedford Athletic led 14-0. Oundle were quick to work themselves back into the game. The visitors did not control the kick off and ceding territory and possession they did well to halt the Oundle pressure for the next eight minutes. Despite a few half chances they did not manage to clear their lines and eventually the pressure told with Jack Sharpley crashing over for a try to the home side. The conversion was missed but Oundle returned to the attack when a wayward clearance saw the ball travel directly to touch allowing Oundle an attacking lineout. On this occasion the pressure was lifted and Bedford Athletic nearly scored with a counter attack of their own. Oundle conceded a penalty amidst scrambled defence but the visitors could not make it pay and went on to concede three penalties when in attacking positions in the remainder of the half. A fractious game spilled over in the 34th minute with Sven Meiland and Toby Snelling were sent to the sin bin for an off the ball scuffle and Bedford Athletic led 14-5 at half time.
An early penalty in the second half from Mortimer saw the lead extended to 17-5 but play remained nip and tuck for the next 20 minutes. Bedford Athletic were particularly effective at halting the Oundle driving maul and in return Oundle held a strong defensive line thwarting the visitor’s attacks. Oundle scored next when a missed tackle from the line out allowed them behind the defence and then a grubber kick from Craig Tandy allowed Will Carrington to score in the corner. Carrington was shortly to turn villain as he was sin binned along with Sawford-Smith in the 56th minute for another off the ball incident before Athletic made the breakthrough in the 61st minute from a midfield scrum when they found space on the right wing for Stephen Woodhead to score. Another touchline conversion from Mortimer made it 24-10 and the game was secured when Oundle conceded penalties in the 64th, 66th and 67th minutes all of which were in front of the posts but from which Bedford Athletic elected for either a lineout drive or a scrum and the final penalty conceded from a 69th minute scrummage saw Oundle concede a penalty try and a sin binning for Grant Snelling with Bedford Athletic taking the try bonus point. Will Carrington talked himself into another yellow card and therefore a red. Bedford Athletic scored another two tries in the final ten minutes Andy Ince collecting a cross field kick from Mortimer and a fly hack up field being chased hard and when the home scrumhalf threw the ball in the air, Woodhead pounced for his second try of the day. Mortimer completed a 100% kicking record and a man of the match performance with the conversion.
With 4 of the final 5 games at home Bedford Athletic retain a one point lead at the top of the table and entertain Old Northamptonians this Saturday with a likely earlier kick off time of 1.30.