Newark 15 Bedford Athletic 19
Bedford Athletic returned to winning ways with a hard fought but deserved 19-15 at Newark in Midlands One East on Saturday.
Ath showed character and composure to record their 12th win in 15 matches on a soft pitch where the wind heavily dictated proceedings.
Smarting from defeat the previous week, Ath shot out of the blocks and opened up a 14-point lead before the first quarter of an hour had elapsed. A series of surges toward the Newark line saw the home side concede a number of penalties and Liam Lancaster evetnually dived over for the opening try.
Great interplay in the forwards between Stuart Polson and Liam Lancaster then saw the ball fed back to James Mortimer who popped a pass to Will Allard to barge over the line on 11 minutes, with Mortimer converting both. Having dominated the opening exchanges Ath fell off the pace and the game deteriorated into a mass of midfield penalties. Newark gained the upper hand territorially and Mortimer was sin-binned for slowing the ball down.
From a lineout Newark launched a clever move down the blindside that saw Tom Coen cross in the corner on the half hour as the conversion was missed.
Minutes later numbers were evened up when the Newark hooker was sin-binned for repeated infringements, while the hosts missed a penalty on the stroke of half time as Ath led 14-5.
Ath started the second half positively with Stephen Woodhead breaking through but, with only the full-back to beat, his pass to Ben Johnson went to ground.
A penalty gave Newark territory and a series of drives, led by loosehead prop Shaun May, saw space created for scrum-half Matt Clark to dive over and score, with Danny Coen adding the extras.
Undaunted Ath pulled themselves right back into the game and, led from the front by Polson and marshalled at the back by Johnson, pressurised their hosts.
Polson was adjudged to have been held up from a forward drive on the hour, but three minutes later Rob Watkins stole a lineout and forwards pressure saw Liam Lancaster go over for the clinching score, although the conversion was missed.
The visitors continued dominate but a Newark breakout enabled Danny Coen to narrow the gap with a penalty on 75 minutes.
The game ended with Stephen Woodhead charging for a try in the corner, only to be taken out by a high tackle, only for the final whistle to go moments later. Fourth-placed Ath host Market Rasen & Louth this Saturday, kick-off at Putnoe Woods 2.15pm.