Athletic left to rue missed opportunities

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A spirited showing was not enough for Bedford Athletic as they went down 27-23 at Old Halesonians in National League Three Midlands on Saturday.

They played the more attractive and free-flowing rugby but were outscored by four tries to three and once again had just a losing bonus point to show for their efforts.

The opening quarter encapsulated the frustration of Bedford’s season. They overcame the loss of captain Rob Watkins in the first minute to launch several penetrating attacks but couldn’t finish them off.

Early chances went begging when a break wide on the right failed after a forward pass and a Ben Reed and Nick Thomas break stalled after a misplaced final pass.

Once they relieved the pressure, OHs set up a series of pick-and-drives in the visitors’ 22 and from a scrum were able to gather and score.

Bedford did get their reward when Steve Smith broke the line and David Simpson’s kick ahead was touched down by Charlie Darlow for an unconverted try.

The kick-off was lost and again OHs were able to attack through the middle, eventually getting the ball wide to a winger for the score.

James Mortimer pulled it back to 12-8 with a penalty but Athletic lost concentration from the kick-off and having not cleared their lines, OHs piled on the pressure and scored after a move from the base of the scrum for a 19-8 half-time lead.

The early pressure and territory went to Bedford in the second-half and from a quickly-taken lineout, Steven Smith scored in the corner.

Matters seemed to be swinging in their favour when they stole a lineout throw on 56 minutes and quickly spread the ball before Charlie Darlow barrelled through the home defence and released Stuart Livesey for their third try, Mortimer converting for a 20-19 lead.

The West Midlanders returned to their power plays and many were repelled until they opened it up from an attacking scrum to send a winger through for a try.

After the sides exchanged successful penalties, Bedford threw everything they had into the final minutes but lacked set-piece stability at the crucial moments.

They host Peterborough Lions this Saturday (2.15pm)