Athletic close in on the title with thumping win

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Bedford Athletic moved to within one win of the league title with a 41 points to 12 victory away at Old Laurentians.

Fighting for survival at the bottom of the table, OLs were not opposition that could be taken lightly, with Bedford working hard for a five tries to two victory.

Old Laurentians started on the front foot – their gameplan of winning penalties, kicking to the corner and driving the lineout proving a strong option.

On 16 minutes this move was executed to perfection when prop forward Darren Dean touched down.

Bedford hit back before half-time, though, sweeping the length of the field for Rob Watkins to eventually deliver the pass that saw Josh Cassell running on to the ball from deep to score from 15 metres. James Mortimer kicked the conversion and Bedford Athletic led 7-5 at half-time.

A mere 36 seconds was all it took for the hosts to score at the start of the second half as the Athletic kick chasers failed to close down their opposite numbers, with Andy Coleman feeding Paul Willis on hand to score the home side’s second try.

This time Ben Wiles converted but the Bedford response was immediate. Great interplay between backs and forwards released Josh Cassell down the left wing and he found full-back Charlie Darlow in support for the try that levelled matters; Mortimer’s conversion putting Bedford Athletic in the lead at 14-12.

The home side pressed on from here. James Mortimer kicked penalties in the 63rd and 67th minutes and, with Athletic leading 20-12, the game began to move to its inevitable conclusion.

With Old Laurentians tiring and Athletic having space to exploit, three more tries were scored.

The play was spread wide for Cassell to score his second try of the day, before a fluent backs move saw the side go the length of the pitch for the fourth try finished off by Charlie Darlow.

The final try of the day saw the visitors work themselves clear down the right wing for Tommy Mills to score in the corner.

James Mortimer converted all three tries and, in doing so, equalled his own club record with 254 points for a league season.

While the win secures at least a play-off place, a victory in their home game against Paviors this Saturday at 3pm would see Bedford secure the title.

Elsewhere, a title was secured by the Bedford Athletic second team, the Warriors, as a 55-19 victory at home to Peterborough saw them claim the Eagle IPA Merit Table league crown.