Bedford Athletic returned to winning ways with a 44-23 victory at home to Huntingdon.
The home side imposed themselves well and, although a spirited and resilient Huntingdon team kept the contest alive throughout, Athletic remained in control and scored six tries to secure a bonus point victory.
Bedford were ahead in the first minute when they moved the ball wide for winger Stephen Woodhead to turn the ball back inside for scrum-half Nick Boyer to score. James Mortimer converted.
Minutes later, Mortimer put a chip kick in to the right corner; it seemed like Woodhead failed to ground the bouncing ball properly but the referee awarded the try and Mortimer converted for a 17-0 lead after 10 minutes.
It was then Huntingdon’s turn to apply the pressure and, although it appeared Athletic had cleared the danger, eventually Duncan Low fed Reggie Reed for a try under the posts which Dan Malem converted.
Athletic returned to the attack and were able to dominate territory and possession enough to allow Ben Johnson to score his first try of the day, rounding the defence on the right wing to score under the posts. Mortimer converted.
Mortimer added a penalty for a 27-7 lead and, if a lineout catch and drive had gone to plan, the home side would have had the try bonus point by half-time.
Instead it was Huntingdon who finished the half on the attack, Athletic giving away several penalties in their own 22. Frustration got the better of fly-half Mortimer who was sin binned for a push, and Malem’s penalty kick made it 27-10 at the interval.
Athletic were caught trying to run possession early in the second half and Malem’s penalty made it 27-13.
However, Huntingdon were offside from the kick-off and on this occasion the line out catch and drive from the penalty worked perfectly to see Nick Thomas touch down for the bonus point try.
Once Mortimer returned to the field he was once again at the centre of matters, with a late tackle from Huntingdon flanker James Thorpe earning him a yellow card.
Athletic pushed home their numerical superiority and, although the referee was already playing advantage from a collapsed maul, Charlie Darlow cut through the defence for a fifth try. Mortimer’s conversion settled matters at 39-13 after 57 minutes.
Huntingdon did not give up easily, though, and a line out catch and drive of their own on 67 minutes saw a try for hooker Seth Muggeridge.
Huntingdon now had a try bonus point on their mind but it was Athletic who scored next. The forwards made ground down the right wing and, once the ball was switched left, space opened up for Johnson to bag his second try.
Woodhead was then sin binned as he contested the ball in the air, and this gave Huntingdon the opportunity to maul their way to the Athletic line for a further score for Mauro Almeida.
With four minutes remaining, the visitors pressed hard for their fourth try but the home defence held firm to run out 44-23 winners.
The Bedford Athletic performance was earned by the hard work of the forwards led by man of the match Liam Walsh which gave the platform for the backs to attack and score the tries.
The team will need a similar performance this Saturday as they travel to Ilkeston – a venue where they have never won in the league.