Athletic hammer Park to reach final
Bedford Athletic advanced to the final of the Bedfordshire Cup after a thumping 62-0 semi-final win at Stockwood Park on Friday night, writes Jeremy Tyrrell.
Ten tries saw the Ath dominate the tie, played in blustery conditions in Luton, as the visitors mastered both the elements and their London Two North West opponents for a comprehensive victory.
Bedford began against the wind with an early flurry of attacks ending in a knock-on. This allowed the hosts to gain a foothold and force a five-metre scrum as a result of sloppy Athletic defensive work, as with the visitors struggling to make headway against the wind until a series of quick tap-penalties.
Eventually stand-in captain James Wallace scored the first try, James Hawken converting on 16 minutes.
Bedford followed this with a length-of-the-field attack that saw Charlie Darlow, David Simpson, Wallace and then Robbie Locke all link well for a Locke try, Hawken again converting.
From the kick-off another direct foray saw Jake Foster make ground before Sven Meiland finished.
Ben Beagent profited after driving play from the forwards, diving over from a yard. Hawken’s conversion made it 28-0 on the half-hour.
Wallace crossed for the fifth on 34 minutes and the sixth came on the stroke of half-time from a scrum. Athletic spread play wide for Josh Cassell to accelerate away for the final try of the half as Bedford led 38-0 at the break.
Early in the second-half a charge-down near the Park line allowed Andy Ince to dive through a ruck to score.
But the impetus waned as Bedford conceded a series of penalties that allowed the hosts to take the initiative, however the pressure ended when the ball was passed into touch.
There was now little control on the game but Park were not accurate enough and a poor clearance allowed the Bedford back-line to run the ball with interest, James Gardner scorching round the defence for a try in the 63rd minute. Hawken converted to bring up 50 points.
Four minutes later Josh McCann and David Simpson carried hard into the Park defence and allowed Matt Trigg to cross for the ninth try. Hawken converted but was unsuccessful with his final attempt of the night once Park had again been stretched across the field for Meiland’s second try with two minutes left.
Bedford meet Dunstablians in the final and travel to Sandbach this Saturday needing a win to stave off relegation in their National Three Midlands campaign.