Stockwood 17 Bedford Atletic 31

Bedford Athletic claimed their 12th Bedfordshire Cup title with a 31-17 win at Stockwood Park in the final game of the 2022-23 season.

The visitors started fast, a pace they did not maintain throughout the 80 minutes and scored two tries in the first five minutes. The first from a flowing backs move saw full back Joel Davies cross in the corner and the second a series of forward rumbles was finished off by Erran Singh-Soomal. The latter was converted by Leo Mortimer for a 12-0 lead. Thereafter Bedford Athletic began to allow the momentum to slip failing to challenge their hosts with the pace and accuracy that might have been expected of the side from the higher league. Indeed Stockwood Park survived a period down to 13 men as they incurred two yellow cards in the opening period, surviving without conceding a score. When Bedford Athletic lost captain Cameron Brough to the sin bin on 35 minutes their hosts took full advantage with their scrum half picking up from the base of a Bedford Athletic scrum and shrugging off the visiting winger for their opening try. Bedford Athletic led 12-5 at half time.

The start to the second half was particularly poor from the visitors. There was an inability to retain the ball in contact on several occasions and as a result possession was lost too easily more than once. With no tempo in their game and being slow to react it was a surprise that the side advanced far enough for Liam Walsh to be held up over the line in the early stages. The home dominance soon paid off with an unconverted try in the 57th minute to narrow the gap to 12-10. With the tide seemingly against them Bedford Athletic did well to start to shift the momentum, relying on their forwards to do so as a lineout catch and drive was mauled to the line to allow no.8 Nick Tarr to touch down on 63 minutes. The tide seemed to have well and truly turned when Bedford Athletic finally got a flowing backs move going to allow captain Brough to touch down in the corner on 67 minutes, Mortimer converting the first of these tries. Stockwood Park reclaimed the kick off and hit back immediately cutting the lead to 24-17 but going into the final ten minutes Bedford Athletic held the upper hand. With possession came penalties. With penalties came chances. And the chances produced another dynamic lineout catch and drive with Lewis Sharp breaking off the back of the maul to score the final try, Mortimer converting. There was still a final chance for Stockwood Park when the visitors fumbled the ball from the kick off but this was snuffed out as Joel Davies held the ball up over the line and the clock ran down for a Bedford Athletic victory.

This 12th cup success sees Bedford Athletic narrow the gap to Stockwood Park’s leading 14 titles in the competition and closes the season on a positive note with 99 tries scored.