Sidcup 24 Bedford Athletic 29

Bedford Athletic secured their first away win of the season triumphing 29-24 at Sidcup. Having trailed by 14 points to 3 at half time, the visitors improved after the break to take control of the game and score 26 second half points against the league’s bottom side.

A win was a welcome reward at the end of a difficult week for selection with nine first team regulars unavailable. The match began with both sides having periods of possession in each other’s territory but both were error prone which negated any scoring opportunities. Bedford Athletic did have two kickable penalty chances but turned them both down in favour of attacks that petered out, the first in a crossfieldkick claimed by the Sidcup full back and the second in a turnover penalty to the home side. It was then Sidcup’s turn to attack as they executed a simple game plan which involved kicking deep into visiting territory and waiting for the mistake. A lineout catch and maul was expertly halted by Rob Watkins and the same player then got over the ball at the ruck in the next wave of attacks to win a turnover penalty for his side. Sidcup were the more purposeful side and their territory game forced mistakes and scoring chances. A penalty kick to the corner, lineout catch and drive saw the first score of the game to home prop Akpesiri Erhawah, converted by Josh Twyford on 28 minutes. An Oli Petrides break, led to a penalty for the visitors, kicked by Leo Mortimer, but this was an interlude in the one way traffic being generated by the home side. Bedford Athletic were playing a high risk, high error game which too often conceded possession in their own half where Sidcup were happy to keep them pinned. Combined with a passivity in defence this was giving too much continuity to the home side and they soon crashed over the line for their second try finished by full back Luka Syplywczak, converted by Twyford. The home side’s ascendancy continued to the break with a missed penalty kick closing the proceedings with Sidcup 14-3 ahead.

The second half saw Bedford Athletic come out playing with more energy, urgency and a little more accuracy. Rewards came quickly. Archie Duncan made a half break, the visitors established themselves in the Sidcup 22, and from a set piece play prop Erran Singh-Soomal had the strength to crash over the line for a try on 42 minutes. Leo Mortimer converted and when the visitors ran the ball back at their hosts, they caused a scrambling defence to concede another penalty allowing Mortimer to narrow the gap to one point on 47 minutes. From the restart, better was to follow. Bedford Athletic were sharp in attack and when Stephen Woodhead slid a neat grubber kick through for Archie Duncan to run onto, he had the pace to sprint beyond the defence for a try under the posts. Mortimer smashed the conversion into but over the crossbar and an eleven point deficit had become a six point lead in ten minutes. It was now the visitor’s turn to dominate with their running game, combining a direct threat through the middle of the park with pace out wide putting their hosts on the back foot. Forcing another penalty on 59 minutes, the visitors kept the scoreboard ticking over with a successful Mortimer kick which was immediately countered with a penalty from Josh Twyford. Undaunted Bedford Athletic retained possession well and kept up the pressure with Mortimer soon able to extend the lead beyond one score with a penalty on 67 minutes. A further penalty resulted four minutes later and despite Sidcup being marched back ten metres to their own line for back chat, captain James Wallace resisted the temptation to go for the try, with Mortimer extending the lead to 29-17. It was fortuitous that he did so as Bedford Athletic didn’t clear the kick off, conceded a penalty, Sidcup kicked to the corner and centre Colby McMahon crashed over which with Twyford’s conversion narrowed the gap to five points. This set up a nervy last five minutes. Bedford Athletic conceded a scrum penalty but benefitted from a crooked lineout throw enabling Mortimer to smash the ball deep into the Sidcup half to see time out.

With the away duck broken Bedford Athletic now have four of the next six games at home starting with the visit of Sudbury this Saturday kicking off at 3pm under the lights on the AGP.