Five-try Johnson inspires Athletic against Mansfield

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A stuttering performance from Bedford Athletic saw them beat Mansfield at home by 38 points to 12.

The match started in a hailstorm but this did not deter the home side as the ball made its way to full-back Ben Johnson who interchanged passes in a scorching run down the left wing which resulted in the opening try within three minutes.

Thereafter the home side had extreme difficulty in staying on the right side of the referee, but the defence remained strong as Paul Ryder and Ryan Taylor won vital turnovers for their team.

Eventually the dam broke and Chris Elliott entered a ruck from the side and received a yellow card on 20 minutes, with the resultant penalty in front of the posts.

Fortunately for Athletic the Mansfield kicker drilled the kick under the bar and the chance was missed.

Gradually Bedford Athletic survived the 10-minute period down to 14 men, although they had to take extreme care not to incur any further punishment at the hands of the official.

They eventually completed the sin bin period with a penalty of their own which James Mortimer converted to increase the lead to 8-0.

The advantage could have been narrower after an interception from Alan Symcox, but he was chased down and a knock on ended the move.

Early scores in the second half would be vital for the home team and Mortimer provided them, first with a penalty and then with a cross-field kick that Ben Johnson juggled but grounded for the second try.

A short period of Athletic dominance saw a third try when a series of scrums in the Mansfield 22 eventually gave way to a Tommy Mills dart for the line which Ben Johnson finished off for his hat-trick.

He then rounded the entire home defence for his and the side’s fourth on the hour mark, securing the bonus point with a lead of 28-0.

With 20 minutes left to play, Mansfield finally kicked a penalty to touch in the home 22, and the resulting line out catch and drive saw a try for Symcox, with replacement Russ Coleman landing the conversion.

Athletic could not secure clean possession and Mansfield broke clear in return. Nick Thomas hauled down the Mansfield attacker but an offside in midfield saw a penalty for the visitors.

A quick tap from Coleman saw him score in the corner, but a scoreline of 28-12 left Mansfield with too much to do in the final 10 minutes and Bedford wrapped up the win with tries from Luke Levitt and Johnson.