Tring 38 Bedford Athletic 17

Bedford Athletic experienced an opening day defeat at Tring by 38 points to 17 in their first match in Regional One South East.

The newly promoted side took a good half an hour to get up to speed with the new level pulling back a 16-0 deficit to lead at one stage by 17 points to 16 before Tring finished the stronger team to claim victory.

Tring started the match at full throttle with Bedford Athletic slow to adjust to the pace and intensity of the encounter. As a result they were on the back foot for most of the opening 25 minutes and suffered a high penalty count. This allowed Tring to take control of proceedings kicking penalties in the 4th, 15th and 22nd minutes to open up a 9-0 lead. Leo Mortimer had a difficult long distance attempt in response which sailed wide. Tring’s dominance eventually led to the first try of the day as from an attacking line out they punched several holes in the visiting defence before fly half Ben Criddleglided through one of many gaps to open the try scoring in the 25th minute. Ben Hogan added the conversion to his three earlier penalties for the 16-0 lead. Mortimer converted a 29th minute penalty in response to get the visitors on the scoreboard and they then scored their opening try from their first real attack in the game. An attacking lineout set up a series of drives and recycling the ball at pace, centresSteve Smith and Harry Sawford-Smith broke the defence before being held up just short of the line. Scrum half Mike Trigg was quickest to react and he dived over for the try which Mortimer converted to cut the deficit to 16-10 at half time.

The increase in physical intensity at this level was emphasised when the visitors were stripped of the ball from the kick off but they responded well, turning defenceinto attack. A charge down from James Wallace could have led to more but he was held back in the chase for the ball although the referee was unsighted. A try saving tackle from Stephen Woodhead turned the tide in the visitors favour for a while and advancing up field a penalty was kicked to touch, and the driving maul from the lineout saw Liam Walsh touch down for the try that Mortimer converted for the lead on 57 minutes. Tring immediately upped the intensity of their game in response. Bedford Athletic did well in defence but unforced errors often under no pressure gave Tring the possession and territory they needed and eventually a lost defensive lineout on their own 5 metre line was one error too many and Criddle pounced for a try to retake the lead which was also converted. Bedford Athletic then compounded the error by sending the kick off straight out of play and this gave Tring the initiative to once again regain possession and hammer hard at the visting defence. First Ben Hogan kicked a penalty on 67 minutes and then five minutes later the home side capitalised on several missed tackles to pour through the defence for a try to Richard Beeny which was again converted for a 33-17 lead. Bedford Athletic ended the game trying to run the ball to retrieve something from the afternoon but once they were turned over this gave Tring the chance to secure the bonus point try from the final play which they duly did in the corner through wing Ed Stanford.

Bedford Athletic did many things well throughout the afternoon but not consistently enough and if they didn’t already know this was a lesson that chances must be taken, possession treasured and errors kept to a minimum. It was though a performance to build on with the first home game coming on Saturday at PutnoeWood against Harpenden with a 3pm kick off.