In a match where the strong winds did much to ruin the game as a spectacle the side eventually overcame the adverse weather conditions to show glimpses of the form that has taken them to the top of the table this season.
Playing with the wind in the first half Bedford Athletic had knocked on three times in the visitors 22 before the first try of the day came on nine minutes, Charlie Darlow finally holding onto the ball long enough to cross for the score. James Mortimer missed the conversion but the kick off went straight to Steven Smith who literally ran the ball back through the entire visiting team to touch down for the second try of the day. The wind gave Mortimer pretty little chance with the conversion again and this time from the kick off Bedford Athletic had to defend. An attacking lineout for the visitors was stolen by Sven Meiland and then strong work from the back row led by Rob Watkins carried the ball away from danger. Old Laurentians were enjoying a fair share of possession and patiently went through the phases but the pressure from the home defence had them gradually inching backwards. Turnover ball was eventually secured and Stephen Woodhead escaped down the right wing for the third try. Mortimer converted this and the bonus point try on 27 minutes which was scored by David Simpson. Bedford Athletic should really have scored again before half time but concerted pressure on the visiting line was stopped, more than once illegally, but Old Laurentians got through to half time with their playing complement intact to trail 24-0.
Against the wind James Mortimer ensured that Bedford Athletic made the perfect start to the second half. A deep kick off was dropped by the visiting defence and from the scrum Athletic used first phase possession to send Darlow over for his second and their fifth try, Mortimer adding the conversion. The visitors did start to make good use of the wind and having kicked a penalty toward the Athletic line, they eventually went through sufficient phases to score a try on the right wing touched down by Andy Coleman. The conversion was successful and when Charlie Darlow’s booming clearance kick went straight out of play it looked like Old Laurentians would have the chance of another score from an attacking lineout. On this occasion the home defence was too good for them and eventually the ball was turned over and the danger averted. Athletic were soon back on the attack with Woodhead sprinting away down the right wing and Darlow finishing the move in the centre of the park for a try converted by Mortimer and a 38-7 lead in the 57th minute. Thereafter Old Laurentians began to wilt. On 63 minutes Smith capped a man of the match performance (award from vice-Chairman Mick Bowden pictured) in which he had been at the centre of the team’s strong back play in attack and defence by spotting the space behind the visiting line and putting a neat grubber kick through for Woodhead to run onto and score. Tommy Mills was on hand to finish off another lightening attack that struck through the heart of the visiting defence ten minutes later, Mortimer this time converting before Woodhead again showed the defence a clear pair of heels to sprint away for his hat trick try on 77 minutes, equalling the earlier efforts of Charlie Darlow.
Derby’s defeat of Newbold keeps them in second place, and so Bedford Athletic will face another tough away test at Paviors this Saturday with their pursuers just six points behind.