Sutton & Epsom 49 Bedford Athletic 25
By Jeremy Tyrrell
Bedford Athletic suffered defeat in their first match in London & South East Premier losing 49-25 at Sutton & Epsom.
Having led 10-7 at half time a costly lapse in concentration and application saw them concede four tries in twenty minutes and therefore their chances in this contest.
The first half was evenly matched with both sides deploying a kicking game after early attempts to make inroads with ball in hand were thwarted by their respective defences. Bedford Athletic had the best chance of a score when Josh Cassell fed Stephen Woodhead down the right wing but he was stripped of the ball just short of the line and the chance was lost. The game remained scoreless until the 26th minute. A penalty kick to touch allowed Sutton to set up position in the visitor’s half and although Cassell brilliantly snuffed out the attack down the right wing Sutton switched play to the left for Andrew Matthews to cross for the opening score, Tom Lennard converting. The next chance fell to the away side as Rob Watkins burst clear but he could not find a team mate in support. This did not delay a score for long as on the next occasion the home defence was breached it was Jake Foster who carried the ball to the line for a try converted by James Mortimer on 31 minutes. Three minutes before half time Mortimer slotted a penalty to give Bedford Athletic a 10-7 half time lead.
A knock on leading to a deliberate offside gave Sutton an early chance in the second half and although the penalty kick at goal was missed they returned the drop out kick with interest, a series of pick and drives seeing prop forward Theo Skoumbourdis score the try that gave Sutton the lead on 44 minutes, Lennard converting. Bedford Athletic then found themselves carrying into trouble in midfield and with their player isolated Sutton were able to drive another penalty into the Athletic corner. A similar routine ensued with a series of pick and drives close to the visitor’s line earning a try for Matt Harwood. Lennard converted on 49 minutes and although Mortimer kicked a penalty in response three minutes later, Sutton’s greater intensity and physicality in this period paid off with a bonus point try for Alan Coulter on 54 minutes. To add insult to injury the Sutton fly half Jamie See then plucked an interception out of the air to run home from 60 metres which with the conversion left the home side 35-13 ahead by the hour mark. To their credit Bedford Athletic did not roll over. Winning a penalty of their own on half way, they used the lineout ball to launch a series of attacks down their left wing which ended with Steve Smith skipping past the defence for the side’s second try with Mortimer converting on 63 minutes. Five minutes later it was Harry Sawford-Smith benefitting from line breaks by Smith and Josh Cassell to score and at 35-25 with 12 minutes to play all outcomes were possible. Yet again though a penalty given away at their own lineout for obstruction allowed Sutton to kick deep into Athletic territory and this time they worked the space for their right wing Kyren Ghumra to score, Lennard converting. Bedford Athletic were then camped on the home line looking for a bonus point try of their own, with the ball eventually knocked on over the line. Slightly cruelly and with the aid of a couple of further penalties Sutton then came the length of the field for a final score dotted down by Harwood.
Bedford Athletic play their first home game of the season when they entertain Tring on Saturday with a 3.00pm kick off at Putnoe Wood.