‘Jekyll and Hyde’ season continues as Ath well beaten at home

Image: Duncan Woodhead / Bedford Athletic RFC

Bedford Athletic lost 43-9 at home to Oundle on Saturday afternoon after a poor performance saw the team fail to score a try for the first time in a match since defeat in Guernsey in the last game played before the Covid pandemic in February 2020.

The problems began right from the first whistle as the return kick from Oundle at the kick off was dropped into touch.

From the lineout, Oundle mauled there way 30 yards toward the try line, disrupting the home defence and a cross field kick from fly half Ben Young found wing Logan McCabe in acres of space to dot down the first try.

Bedford Athletic responded with a couple of penalties to narrow the gap to 7-6, before they struggled with another high clearance kick which was missed, bounced into Oundle’s hands and they surged forward with swift inter passing amongst the backs resulting in the ball coming to Samson Ma’asi who touched down for the second try of the day.

Bedford Athletic then strung their best period of the match together with multiple phases being thwarted only by stern Oundle defence. In the end. they had to settle for another Leo Mortimer penalty making the score 14-9 on 20 minutes.

The initiative was immediately surrendered as a penalty was conceded from the restart, which Young kicked to stretch the lead back to 17-9 and minutes later Mortimer failed with his fourth kick in response.

The game then entered a period of stalemate with neither side able to gain territory or take advantage from possession. There were individual wins including a fine turnover from Leo Mortimer but it was Young who shifted momentum back in Oundle’s favour with a 50:22 kick that put Oundle deep in the home 22.

A couple of penalties and lineouts later they had driven their maul over the home side’s line for a try scored by Wes Cope and converted by Young.

With half time looming Bedford Athletic again invited pressure with a needless penalty in midfield. Oundle again kicked for touch deep in the home 22.

Although the home side were successful in repelling five or six drives toward their line they did lose Jacob Wells to the sin bin and ended the half 24-9 behind.

Ill discipline and errors cost Ath

The second half began with Bedford Athletic once more conceding penalties in centre field positions that allowed Oundle to kick to the corner and re-pressurise the home defence.

Oundle switched their point of attack from the next lineout shifting the drive to an infield pod that saw flanker, Bryn Jones crash over for the bonus point try on 48 minutes.

Following a well won turnover by Lewis Sharp, Bedford Athletic were able to build some momentum but when they had two attacking lineouts in the visitor’s 22 the first was thrown crooked and the second knocked on.

As a result Oundle cleared the danger and in continuing to deploy a clever tactical kicking game soon had the home side struggling in their own half again.

Bedford Athletic did well to shepherd one such attack into touch but a quick lineout throw found centre Ma’asi in space and he dotted down for the fifth try on the hour mark.

Another well directed kick and chase turned the home defence and forced them to carry the ball back behind their own line, giving Oundle an attacking 5 metre scrum. The Oundle pack duly shunted the home team backwards over their own line with No.8, Conor Gracey scoring the try.

There was still ten minutes to play at this point but with the weather deteriorating and the Bedford Athletic team continuing to lack intensity and accuracy, they were unable to create anything further in response and subsided to a comfortable defeat.

So Bedford Athletic’s Jekyll and Hyde season continued with the team delivering both good and bad performances. The concern is that the bad are starting to outweigh the good and the first opportunity to put that right comes at Tring this Saturday.

Words by Jeremy Tyrrell

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