The opening day of a new league season saw a win for Bedford Athletic by 47 points to 20 at Wellingborough.
In a subdued performance back in Midlands One East following a season in the league above, Bedford Athletic outscored their hosts by seven tries to two but lacked fluency and at times cohesion as they returned to league action following a four month break.
The errors were prevalent from the kick off as a dropped ball gave Wellingborough field position which eventually they capitalised on with a penalty from Ryan Mackie in the 3rd minute. There was little early possession for the visitors but when they did eventually get the ball they soon stretched the play and when Nick Thomas broke down the left wing, Stephen Woodhead was in support to score the first try on nine minutes. James Mortimer converted but the side continued to struggle with their structure and some uncharacteristic errors led to a second Wellingborough penalty again kicked by Mackie on 19 minutes. From the restart Stuart Livesey ran back a poor clearance kick and some good inter passing down the right wing saw Andy Ince reach the line for the second try. Mortimer’s conversion made it 14-6 in the 20th minute. A late hit on Woodhead gave Bedford Athletic a penalty and from the lineout Charlie Darlow broke through the home defence with Woodhead on hand to score his second try. Woodhead completed his hat trick before half time with another break down the right wing and Mortimer’s conversion made it 26-6. Athletic did well to preserve this scoreline to the break as a period of Wellingborough pressure saw Josh McCann win a vital turnover for his side when the home team’s No.8 Chris Shipman stripped the ball in the tackle and threatened the visitor’s line.
Early in the second half Woodhead chased down and trapped his opposite winger behind his own goal line following a Mortimer kick, and from the five metre scrum the Bedford Athletic pack drove their hosts backwards allowing scrum half Tom Orton to touch down for the try. Mortimer converted again to build a 33-6 lead. Strong defence then became the order of the day as the visitor’s defended their line manfully, knocking Wellingborough back in the tackle and the set piece. A strong run from Harry Sawford-Smith should have alleviated the pressure but Bedford Athletic were becoming profligate in possession and paid the price when fly half Mackie slipped three tackles to score the first try of the day for the home side on the hour mark. Carelessness remained the hallmark of the visitor’s play until it resulted in an interception try plucked out of the air and scored by Peter Vickers in the 68th minute, two successful conversions narrowing the gap to 33-20. However Bedford Athletic recomposed themselves to close out the game and scored next when Tom Orton broke from an attacking scrum to feed Josh Cassell for a try in the left corner. Then with a couple of minutes left a well-placed Mortimer kick saw Cassell win the chase and dive on the ball for his second and his side’s seventh try. Mortimer’s 6th successful kick out of 7 rounded off the 47-20 victory.
Bedford Athletic continue their early season road trips when they travel to Bugbrooke on Saturday with a 3pm start.