Bedford Athletic 63 Guildford 7
By Jeremy Tyrrell
Bedford Athletic demolished Guildford overcoming their visitors by 63 points to 7.
It was a performance that delivered 11 tries in total, with hat tricks for Stephen Woodhead and Harry Sawford-Smith as the side moved up to 6th place in the league table.
Early errors did not prove costly for Bedford Athletic as a forward pass and an unnecessary penalty for offside appeared to gift Guildford field position. Stern defence held Guildford at bay and once the turnover came, Athletic attacked at pace and Josh Cassell bounced through several tackles to put Andy Ince, celebrating his 100th appearance for the 1st XV, in for the opening score in the fifth minute. Penalties were keeping Guildford in the game and three in a row allowed them to set a driving maul from a lineout close to the home line from which prop George Banks scored, Ieuan Jones converting for a 7-5 lead in the 13th minute. Bedford Athletics’ response was fast and furious with Steve Smith opening space for Ben Thompson to score on 16 minutes and then crossing himself for a score in the 24th as the Guildford defence struggled to identify let alone deal with the oncoming threat. Guildford did have periods of possession, but strong home defence snuffed any chances out and when Liam Walsh won a key turnover penalty on the half hour mark, he was on hand to finish the subsequent move for the bonus point try. Bedford Athletic then hit their visitors hard before half time, Harry Sawford-Smith cutting through the centre of the defence for a try converted by Smith (who had earlier hit the posts twice with conversions) and then Stephen Woodhead dancing across the face of the defence before eluding the final tackler for the sixth try, this time converted by David Simpson for a 34-7 half time lead.
Guildford were able to build pressure early in the second half and twice had penalties that they kicked to the corner in an attempt to execute their rolling maul, in truth one of the only weapons in their armoury all afternoon. On both occasions Rob Watkins led the defensive efforts in stopping the maul at source and the home side successfully turned the ball over. Eventually Bedford Athletic broke from their own half and Woodhead was once again the beneficiary finishing off the seventh try of the day on 51 minutes. A more patient build up saw the home side gradually tie in defenders and ultimately release the ball wide for Woodhead’s hat trick try seven minutes later by which time the home side had opened up a 44-7 lead. Two sin bins, one for each side with Tom Orton dismissed for the home team saw the game’s momentum disrupted but eventually from a five metre scrum Bedford Athletic spread the ball wide for Sawford-Smith to score again in the 66th minute. Bedford Athletic had been dominating all facets of the game for some time, however they started to lack accuracy in their play as several chances came and went before Sawford-Smith completed his hat trick on his 50th appearance for the side in the 77th minute. Nick Thomas bounced the conversion in off the post and the final play saw Guildford dropping off tackles like expiring flies as Robbie Locke sped away for the final try of the game, Woodhead deciding to add kicking duties to his try scoring exploits for the final conversion.
An emphatic win gives the team good momentum heading into their final away game of the season at Brentwood on Saturday which kicks off at 3.00pm.