The relegation threatened visitors played an enterprising game and the home team had to show patience and fortitude to gain the win and earn the points.
An evenly contested beginning to the match appeared to have swung Market Rasen’s way when their fly half Jake Goodison chipped ahead and having gathered his own kick was only stopped courtesy of an infringement from the home side. However his penalty attempt went wide and it was soon the home side’s turn to attack as prolonged phase play pummelled away at the visitor’s line. Eventually the dam was breached and Charlie Darlow crossed for the first try of the day on 7 minutes, the conversion was unsuccessful. A wet afternoon made handling difficult but both teams looked to play with ball in hand when they could. Market Rasen did look to attack when they had possession but it was the home side who were the more clinical and on 20 minutes it was wing Rob Ward who broke past the cover defence and set in motion the move down the left wing where good support play eventually saw Andy Ince cross for the second try of the day. Bedford Athletics’ subsequent pressure was not turned into points and Market Rasen had possession and territory gains of their own before the end of the half but the home defence held firm and the lead was 10-0 at half time.
The visitors started the second half with determination and purpose but their attacks foundered on a solid home defence where captain Rob Watkins dominated the breakdown. With possession not providing any clear cut chances they became increasingly frustrated and perhaps this led to a sin binning for fly half Goodison for stamping on 53 minutes. Sensing their opportunity Bedford Athletic increased the tempo of their game and David Simpson broke the line to leave the home side camped in the visitor’s 22. Having probed both left and right, as Market Rasen began to run out of defenders the gap opened up on the left wing for Nick Thomas to dive over for the third try of the day. Returned to a full compliment the visitor’s response was immediate as they forced a home error in midfield, won a penalty, kicked to the corner and eventually forced their way over the try line from a 5 metre line out catch and drive move which was touched down by Leigh Dearden. This narrowed the gap to 15-5 and with ten minutes left to play the game opened up as Market Rasen chased their losing bonus point and Bedford Athletic went in search of their bonus point try. In the end it was Athletic who profited as Andy Ince procured a line out, powered through the visiting defence and once three players had brought him to ground it was captain Watkins who was on hand to take the scoring pass and drag a few defenders of his own over the line as well for good measure.
With Ryan Taylor and Ian Barnard anchoring the scrum, man of the match Nick Thomas keeping the forwards on the front foot and Rob Watkins tidying up any loose ends the forward pack laid the platform for a solid win. It’s a win that enables Bedford Athletic to open up a twelve point lead and they will need to take the same attitude of durability and hard work with them to Matlock this Saturday, a venue where the current squad have never won.