Tunbridge Wells 48 Bedford Athletic 24

Bedford Athletic went down to an embarrassing 48-24 defeat at Tunbridge Wells. They secured a try bonus point in the final play of the match which was the only highlight of an afternoon in which they lacked intensity, application and control.

The visitors dropped the kick off and from the resultant scrum failed to number up in defence allowing right wing Mike Doherty the space to score with ease in the first minute. An open start to the game then saw both sides spurn try scoring chances being turned over just short of their opponents line. Gradually Bedford Athletic seemed to work their way into the game, long periods of possession taking them deep into the home side’s half until from a lineout catch and drive the pack muscled their way over the line for a try to Andy Ince to make the score 5-5. Careless and unnecessary penalties then started to creep into the visitor’s game and this allowed Tunbridge Wells to make easy metres and set up attacking opportunities in the visitor’s 22. A line out catch and drive saw hooker Ben Mutch burrow over on 21 minutes, a very crooked throw from a lineout saw no.7 Josh Brockman catch the defence off guard and crash over for a try on 29 minutes and three minutes later some superb inter passing down the right wing saw the home side sail past the visiting defence with Brockman getting his second and the bonus point try on 32 minutes. Two conversions from fly half George Montgomery saw Tunbridge Wells out to a 24-5 lead and this became 29-5 minutes later when Bedford Athletic conceded two scrum penalties in a row and had scrum half Tom Orton sin binned for a deliberate slap down of a pass. Left wing Max Douch then scooted through the gap into the corner. In a first half in which they were far too prone to giving away penalties, and failed to impose themselves at the breakdown, Bedford Athletic did have the final say when the forwards powered a maul forward from a lineout and Andy Ince once again showed his strength to wrestle over the line to make the score 29-10 at half time.

Bedford Athletic were back under pressure at the start of the second half, conceding territory and ending up with a goal line drop out. From this Tunbridge Wells secured a lineout and a close range drive from their pack saw them over the line for a try to no.8 Nick Doherty, converted by Montgomery. Winning a scrum penalty on 47 minutes might have been a momentum shift for the visiting side but once inside the 22, they failed with two attempts to drive over the line from lineouts and were eventually turned over and conceded a penalty. Tunbridge Wells cleared the danger,worked their way back up field and on the hour mark had their seventh try when a cross field kick was caught with ease by centre Ed Shepherdson who broke through two tackles for the try. Bedford Athletic did have a response when Luke Denham fielded a poor clearance kick and ran back through the home side, his pace carrying him to the line and his side’s third try. Tunbridge Wells scored again with another cross field kick, another line out catch and drive and another try for no.8 Nick Doherty. Despite an ill disciplined second half performance where too often the ball was lost in contact, the side struggled to keep their defensive shape or bring accuracy in attack, the visitors pushed hard at the end for the fourth try. They went a man up when wing Douch was sin binned for a deliberate knock on and despite a number of errors when in good positions, particularly from lineouts, in the final minute a grubber kick from Mortimer was chased hard by Petrides who won the race for the try, Mortimer kicking his second conversion.

Having failed again to rise to the challenge of an away match and having conceded 170 points in four away games since Christmas, Bedford Athletic have a chance to end the league season on a high and although now seventh, are in with an outside chance of a top six finish with a home game against Tring this Saturday kick off 3.00pm.