Bedford Athletic defeated Syston by 32 points to 27 in their first league win of 2017.
Having come through a crisis of confidence in the middle of the match the visitors regained and then held on to the lead in the latter stages as the sides shared ten tries.
Bedford Athletic started brightly and their first meaningful attack of the game saw the ball spun wide to wing Josh Cassell who ran through the home full back to score on 4 minutes. The visitors then survived a long period of pressure from their hosts eventually turning the ball over and clearing their lines following multiple phases. When they returned to the attack they scored again, this time Steve Smith darted through the home defence for a 10-0 lead. Syston may have been slow to settle but on 18 minutes they worked a clever move off a lineout that got them in behind the defence and several phases later Luke Williams was on hand to score their opening try. Bedford Athletic were not to be deterred and they scored again when having missed one chance from a mistimed lift at an attacking lineout they took advantage from a deeper lineout throw to execute a move that again gave Cassell space to cross for the third try on 26 minutes, James Mortimer adding the conversion. The fourth and bonus point try arrived four minutes later when a shortened attacking lineout allowed Nick Thomas to crash through the midfield defence to reach all the way to the line and a 22-5 lead. The final five minutes before half time saw a mini implosion in the visiting side. Firstly a needless knock on saw a home scrum and an over eager defence jumped out of the line too quickly giving Sam Harrison the space to score. Two minutes later a kick ahead was picked up by Syston centre Williams and he raced half the length of the pitch to make the score 22-17 at half time.
Syston returned the Bedford Athletic kick off with interest at the start of the second half and having turned the ball over in the visitor’s 22 went through the phases again to score their bonus point try through Ed Lorriman and tie the scores at 22-all. Athletic had a couple of half chances in response but their handling let them down, whilst Syston were making good ground by going through the centre of the ruck. This led to their fifth try on 53 minutes with full back Jack Chantrell the scoring beneficiary. Once they started to secure some possession Bedford Athletic worked their way back into the match and from another well executed lineout move Stephen Woodhead sped away from the home defence to touch down Athletics’ fifth try. Mortimer’s conversion gave them the lead at 29-27. With the visitor’s scrum now on top Syston were being denied any meaningful possession and when man of the match Ben Reed won another turnover penalty, Steve Smith stepped up to slot it from 45 metres out and Bedford Athletic had some margin of comfort at 32-27 with seven minutes to go. They used this to see the remainder of the match out and hold on for the win.
With the season nearly over there is now the Bedfordshire Cup Final at Dunstablians on Tuesday 18th April, the final league game at home to Towcestrians on Saturday 22nd April and the East Midlands Cup Final against Peterborough Lions at Goldington Road on Wednesday 26th April to come.