Athletic romp to victory at Ilkeston

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Bedford Athletic came out on top in another hard fought contest – this time away to Ilkeston by 39 points to 17.

This was the team’s first ever win at Ilkeston and it was made all the sweeter by dominating the game and emerging victorious by six tries to three.

Bedford Athletic were first to score, the try coming in the seventh minute as Paul Ryder charged down a kick and then led the breakaway – Rob Watkins was eventually on hand to score the try, and James Mortimer added the conversion for a 7-0 lead.

Ilkeston applied a very direct approach and the visitors had to spend long periods defending in order to contain it so it was important that they took their chances when they came.

When Ryder was once again at the heart of breaking down an Ilkeston move it was prop Guiseppe Picanza who finished the opportunity off by adding the second try in the 27th minute.

A more structured backs move accounted for the third try, with full-back Stephen Woodhead finding space and then beating the last defender to score.

The bonus point try was secured before half-time as Steven Smith broke through the home defence to touch down under the posts, with Mortimer converting for a 24-0 half-time lead.

Having taken advantage of playing down the slope in the first half, it was important that the visitors started well in the second.

And they duly did just that as Mortimer dropped a well judged cross-field kick into the hands of Charlie Reed who scored, with Mortimer adding the conversion for a 31-0 lead.

The home side finally got onto the scoreboard when winger Nathan Jones broke clear in the 50th minute for their first try.

This gave Ilkeston impetus and they soon scored again when scrum-half Joe Marsden broke off the side of an advancing maul to touch down; the conversion was once again missed though, leaving the gap at 31-10.

A comeback looked like it might be on the cards in the 58th minute when another driving maul paid dividends for the home side, the try being converted this time by Jake Lamb.

However a penalty from Mortimer in the 63rd minute steadied the visitors and they finished the game the stronger with the defence holding up well.

They even had the last say as Liam Walsh finished off a driving maul from a lineout for an unconverted try.

The league continues to throw up hard games for Bedford Athletic as – for the second time this season–they now face the unbeaten league leaders, this time in the shape of high flying Kettering at Putnoe Woods this Saturday.

This game will form the centrepiece of the club’s World Cup celebrations on an afternoon sponsored by Gibbs and Dandy which will include a Vets game against the US touring side the California Bald Eagles.

All the activities at the club get under way from 12 noon onwards.