In a match acting as a precursor to this season’s Bombardier East Midlands Cup Final Bedford Athletic were dominant throughout to maintain their title challenge and restore their winning sequence following defeat in their previous game.
Northampton Old Scouts scored the first points of the day through a penalty from fly half Martin Connolly on 2 minutes in what was to prove their only score of the afternoon. The home side were soon in try scoring mode when just two minutes later their scrum shunted their opponents backward and created the space for scrum half Tom Orton to attack the visiting defence. He drew the last defender and full back Charlie Darlow scooted home under the posts for the opening try on 4 minutes. Patience was then the order of the day for the home side as their visitors went through a long period of possession but staunch defence limited their opportunities. Eventually possession was surrendered and Bedford Athletic returned to the attack. Several opportunities were squandered as the Old Scouts defence held firm but eventually the tempo and precision in the home side’s game proved too much and fly half Mortimer was able to dance over by the posts to score and convert his own try for a 14-3 lead on 25 minutes. Bedford Athletic were now upping the pace of their execution and having gone through a period where they hammered the middle of the old Scouts line they now chose to throw the ball wide for the third try of the day scored by Josh Cassell accelerating away down the left wing. This was not converted by Mortimer and the team were not able to fashion another chance before half time and had to settle for a 19-3 lead at the break.
Old Scouts had the first opportunity of the second half when they were awarded a penalty on half way which they drilled to the corner. However tenacious Bedford Athletic defence repelled the chance and the home side were soon creating opportunities of their own in attack. Firstly the home scrummage demolished their opponents on their own ball and from the lineout penalty the home pack drove again to swarm all over their visitors and Ben Reed touched down for the bonus point try on 48 minutes. Mortimer converted and to all intents and purposes the game was settled as a contest. Unlike in previous weeks the home side retained a high level of concentration throughout and with Mortimer pulling the strings at fly half they dominated territory throughout the remainder of the game. Emphasising his choice as man of the match Mortimer won the turnover penalty that led to the next sustained period of pressure on the visiting line as Andy Ince led several charges into the heart of the Old Scouts defence. Eventually the forwards created enough space to allow Tommy Mills to skate through the heart of the defence to score the fifth try, Mortimer again converting on 63 minutes. The dominance of the home pack was such that replacement scrum half Robbie Locke had a perfectly good try disallowed when the referee was unsighted as he dived on the ball following the marmelisation of yet another visiting scrum. But the forwards were not to be denied and they capped off a dominant display when following a series of pick and drives close to the Old Scouts line Ben Middleton dived over for the sixth and final try on 70 minutes. There was still time for Old Scouts to launch a series of final attacks of their own but the home defence held firm and not only alleviated the pressure but ended the game on the attack.
The team take a break for the Easter holidays now before they return to action at a resurgent Old Laurentians on 2nd April, a side who have won five games since Christmas as they aim to survive in the division.