The home side imposed themselves in all areas of the game and although a spirited and resilient Huntingdon team kept the contest alive throughout, Athletic remained in control and scored six tries in securing a bonus point victory.
They were ahead in the first minute when the referee awarded them a penalty from the kick off and better was to come from the first real attack of the game. From a midfield scrum Athletic moved the ball wide with winger Stephen Woodhead getting outside the defence and then turning the ball back inside for scrum half Nick Boyer to score. James Mortimer kicked the conversion. Minutes later Boyer broke from a lineout and when the ball was recycled, Mortimer put a chip kick in to the right corner. It seemed like Woodhead failed to ground the bouncing ball properly but the referee awarded the try and with Mortimer converting the home side led 17-0 after ten minutes. It was then Huntingdon’s turn to apply the pressure and although it appeared Athletic had cleared the danger on several occasions eventually a lineout penalty allowed Huntingdon to drive a maul close to the home side’s line and when the ball was released to the backs Duncan Low fed Reggie Reed for a try under the posts which Dan Malem converted. Athletic returned to the attack and with an advancing scrum and in control of the lineout they were able to dominate territory and possession enough to allow Ben Johnson to score his first try of the day rounding the defence on the right wing to score under the posts, Mortimer converting. Mortimer added a penalty for a 27-7 lead and if a lineout catch and drive had gone to plan the home side would have had the try bonus point by half time. Instead it was Huntingdon who finished the half on the attack, Athletic giving away several penalties in their own 22. Frustration got the better of fly half Mortimer who was sin binned for a push and Malem’s penalty kick made it 27-10 at half time.
Bedford Athletic were caught trying to run possession early in the second half and Malem’s penalty made it 27-13. However Huntingdon were offside from the kick off and on this occasion the line out catch and drive from the penalty worked perfectly to see Nick Thomas touch down for the fourth and bonus point try. Once Mortimer returned to the field he was once again at the centre of matters with a late tackle from Huntingdon flanker James Thorpe against his old club earning him a yellow card. Athletic pushed home their numerical superiority and although the referee was already playing advantage from a collapsed maul Charlie Darlow cut through the defence for a fifth try. Mortimer’s conversion settled matters at 39-13 after 57 minutes. Huntingdon did not give up easily though and a line out catch and drive of their own on 67 minutes saw a try for hooker Seth Muggeridge. Huntingdon now had a try bonus point on their mind but it was Athletic who scored next. The forwards made ground down the right wing and once the ball was switched left the space opened up for Johnson to score his second try of the day. Woodhead was then sin binned as he contested the ball in the air with his opposite winger and this gave Huntingdon the opportunity to maul their way to the Athletic line for a further score for Mauro Almeida. With four minutes remaining the visitors pressed hard for their fourth try but the home defence held firm to run out 44-23 winners.
The Bedford Athletic performance was earned by the hard work of the forwards led by man of the match Liam Walsh which gave the platform for the backs to attack and score the tries. The team will need a similar performance this Saturday as they travel to Ilkeston a venue where they have never won in the league.