Maestro Hodgson gets CS back on song
by ADRIAN HOUSTOUN
CS finally kicked off a game of redemption by rediscovering their mojo with this critical away win to Athletic which they hope hints at much better times ahead.
The silky skills of fly half Tom Hodgson, now fully back in the starting line-up after a year out, regularly brought the backs into play, which proved a perfect strategy, often missing during the early fixtures in this campaign, and totally suited to Bedford’s excellent new AGP pitch. This game plan regularly caused the Bedford defence problems as they struggled to contain the CS backline playing with quick ball.
CS are grateful to Athletic for hosting this match whilst their home ground is still out of action due to reseeding following the hot summer weather. The reverse fixture on January 12th which would have been at Bedford will therefore be at Dukes Meadows.
Athletic kicked off, the ball was cleanly fielded by one of the CS back row forwards who gave early indication of the forwards tactics by running it into the Bedford half. Initial scrums and lines out came and went with CS maintaining position in the home team’s half. After ten minutes CS won a scum 8 metres from the line. The scrum won, Adam Nixon
who according to Bedford’s account “cut a fine line to waltz through the defence and touch down for a try by the posts.” Hodgson
converted 0-7. On 14 minutes CS were awarded a penalty after Athletic had collapsed the line out. Hodgson
stroked it over 0-10. Three minutes later the CS open side was penalised for holding on. Bedford took the opportunity of kicking to the corner but nothing much came from the opportunity. CS then had their own opportunity via a penalty to take play to the opposite corner. When Nixon
got his hands on the ball he skilfully found full back Houstoun
who slipped a flat accurate pass to right wing Toby Guyett
who scored in the corner untouched. Hodgson
was unable to convert the try. 0-15.
On 25 minutes the referee was playing advantage to CS and Hodgson
attempted a drop goal but missed. Play was brought back for a scrum, and a deja vu moment as Nixon
set off with the ball, he ultimately found Houstoun
with line beckoning who passed the ball to James Dazeley
who scored in the corner. 0-20. At this point Bedford made some changes to their forwards. The changes made an immediate difference. Smith drilled a penalty deep into the CS half and the forwards drove the lineout over the line for the first home try, touched down by James Wallace and converted by Smith. 7-20 CS Stags showed they were unfazed and in response were pressing the Athletic line, which was only stopped by a high tackle on the CS fullback. Hodgson
slotted the penalty. 7-23 at the break.
CS kept their foot on the throttle at the start of the second half by driving Athletic back. They were in the main winning the physical contest and harrying Athletic into mistakes. The pressure built and inevitably CS scored their bonus point try on 51 minutes which was something of a mirror image of the last try, this time Dazeley
fed the ball to Ryan Martin
who found Houstoun
to score. 7-28.
Bedford Athletic responded with a brief period of fluidity as Andy Ince and captain Rob Watkins carried hard in the middle of the park and having set up a scrum in the visitor’s 22 Stephen Woodhead showed his pace to accelerate round the outside of the defence for his side’s second try. 12-28. To their credit Athletic fought to the end. However, when they tried to run the ball out of defence with three minutes to go CS centre Ryan Martin
intercepted to score under the posts, Hodgson
converted to complete the win. 12-35.
CS were thankful to debutants Ollie Roberts
, back row and Matt Pollen
, centre who both made full contributions and deserved a post-match drink in the excellent facilities that Athletic has to offer.
Next week CS are away to Wimbledon, high flying at the top of the league with 4 victories from 4.