Athletic suffer narrow defeat to Towcestrians

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Bedford Athletic let an early lead slip as they went down 19-14 at Towcestrians during their opening National Three Midlands clash of the season on Saturday.

Athletic scored the first two tries of the game only to see their lead overhauled and a losing bonus point the only consolation for their efforts.

The visitors started the game brightly and were much the better side for the opening 25 minutes.

Carrying the game to their hosts they were making penetrating runs in midfield and controlling possession at the breakdown.

Although they lost wing Josh Cassell to injury after 10 minutes they were soon on the scoresheet when Jake Foster finally made a series of attacking scrums pay when he dived over with James Mortimer’s conversion extending the lead to 7-0.

The side scored again on 20 minutes when an attacking lineout allowed Athletic to move play into the centre of the field for Stephen Woodhead to crash over by the posts.

Mortimer again converted for a 14-0 lead.

Athletic nearly scored from the kick off when full back Charlie Darlow almost latched on to a high kick missed by the home defence but the bounce of the ball saved Towcestrians.

The loss of influential second row Nick Thomas to injury five minutes later started to hamper their efforts and their hosts started to grow into the game as their offloading game close to the ruck started to pay dividends.

On 28 minutes they won a scrum just outside the Bedford Athletic 22 and a series of drives took them up and over the line, the try being scored by Jamie Warr and converted by Ben Roe.

On 35 minutes Bedford Athletic hooker Charlie Robinson was sin binned for an obstruction at a quick tap penalty and Towcestrians took full advantage with a penalty, line out, catch and drive routine that ended with an unconverted try for Zac Osborne, as Athletic led 14-12 at half time.

Still with 14 players they started the second half badly when a poor cross field kick handed possession back to Towcestrians and they reaped the rewards of a patient build up going through multiple phases before finally Alex Chalcraft was able to cross on the left wing for their third score, converted by Roe.

Restored to their full complement, Bedford began to work their way back into the game but their efforts came to nil when they conceded a penalty for holding on in the home sides’ 22.

They did well to resist a period of Towcestrians pressure halfway through the second half although they were helped by their insistence on taking quick tap penalties rather than kicking goals or kicking for touch.

Captain Rob Watkins did his best to rally the troops with an all encompassing game of ball carrying and tackling and Steven Smith was always a threat when he got the ball in hand and space to work with but by and large it was a scrappy game with the wet weather not helping.

Clear cut chances were at a premium, Smith was nearly on the end of a kick and chase which might have led to a winning score toward the end of the match but the visitors could not raise their performance to challenge the scoreboard further and finished on the wrong side of a 19-14 scoreline.

There is plenty of room for improvement and the side are on the road again next Saturday to pre-season title favourites Birmingham Solihull who were opponents for the Blues in the Championship just six seasons ago.