Towcestrians 9 Bedford Athletic 22

A dominant second half display saw Bedford Athletic emerge victorious by 22 points to 9 at Towcestrians.

Having trailed 9-0 at half time the team encouragingly showed the composure and control to turn the match around and earn a bonus point for their efforts.

On a cold, wet and dank December day territory was going to be key throughout the game and it was Towcestrians who initially got the upper hand. A deep kick forced a goal line drop out and the home side ran that kick back with interest, drives led by centres Pepe Nanci and Tom Bills being stopped just short of the line. Although they were driven back Towcestrians still earned a penalty on the 22 and although this kick was missed they soon had a similar further chance which Bills slotted for a 3-0 lead. Towcestrians spent much of the first period camped in their visitor’s half aided by a string of penalties for breakdown offences and Athletics’ own profligacy in missing three penalty kicks to touch which might have relieved the pressure. In the conditions the visitor’s running game was neither working nor appropriate and they were saved from conceding further points thanks to a dominant set piece particularly in the line out where Rob Watkins dominated. Nevertheless Towcestrians kicked a further two penalties out of four attempts at goal to establish their half time lead and it wasn’t until the final minutes of the half that the visitors breached their opponents 22 and even that attack was snuffed out when the ball carrier ended up isolated.

Bedford Athletic changed personnel and approach at half time with replacement fly half Felix Mallalieu entering the fray. He ensured a more structured kicking game and with that came territory and with the territory came possession, pressure and points. Now on the front foot Bedford Athletic ran hard at their hosts and had two early tries both fashioned down the left wing and both finished off by Josh Cassell putting the side 10-9 ahead on 52 minutes. It was now the Bedford Athletic centres who were dominant with Steve Smith and Harry Sawford-Smith opening up the home defence ably abetted by forceful carries from the pack led by Jake Foster and assisted by Rob Watkins’ constant harrying of the home side in the air and on the ground. A third try scoring opportunity was ruled to be held up in goal on 66 minutes but the goal line drop out was reversed into a penalty for the visitors following a late push by the home defence. The ball was quickly transferred infield and Smith crashed over at the posts for the third try which Mallalieu converted. With Mallalieu now dictating proceedings the Bedford Athletic attack was flowing once again and they secured the try bonus point in the final minutes as Sawford-Smith went through a gap for the score.

It was a credit to the team that they showed the calm and composure to turn the match around in difficult conditions and captain James Wallace and his men can expect a similar challenge when they travel to Belgrave this Saturday with a 2.15pm kick off.