Bedford Athletic lose at Hertford but still survive the drop

Despite Bedford Athletic's 33-22 defeat at Hertford at the weekend, they have survived the drop for this season, writes Jeremy Tyrrell.
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Rochford’s defeat meant that Bedford will remain in Regional One for another year with the threat of relegation now removed.

However the chance of finishing higher than 10th has also now gone with the team looking to end a five game losing streak at home to Shelford this Saturday with a 3pm kick-off at Putnoe Wood.

Last Saturday was a match in which they lacked the necessary energy and precision to put sufficient pressure on their hosts and for the second match in a row they ended the game without a point.

Bedford Athletic lose but stay up.Bedford Athletic lose but stay up.
Bedford Athletic lose but stay up.

Hertford scored the first try of the game in the fifth minute.

From a lineout on halfway they spread the ball across the pitch and ran around the visiting defence for left wing Adam Drew to touch down for an unconverted score.

Hertford continued to have the better of the early exchanges and scored again on 12 minutes.

This time a lineout maul was driven 30 metres to put the visiting defence in reverse and soon the home side were generating pressure under the posts for a score to centre Josh Rudling, converted by Louis Kendrick.

Athletic started to earn a decent amount of possession but scoring chances were at a premium as most moves ended in a handling error and in the end they had to settle for a penalty kick from fly half Will Dorasamy to open their score on 21 minutes.

Moments later a kick ahead from Harry Sawford-Smith saw them behind the Hertford defence and creating an overlap from which they should have scored, but failed to use the extra man and Hertford cleared to touch.

However the Bedford lineout drive marched inexorably to the Hertford line and, having been illegally brought down, the referee awarded a penalty try.

The momentum immediately shifted back to the home side as a knock on in the lineout saw a scrum awarded from which the visiting defence failed to number up properly allowing the outside centre Oliver Cook to ghost through the defence and score as Hertford led 17-10 on the half hour.

From a scrum Michael Trigg saw space on the blind side and he exploited it with Josh Cassell sprinting away for a try in the left corner, expertly converted from the touchline by Dorasamy to tie the scores.

A lapse in concentration saw Bedford fall behind again to a penalty, and worse was to follow as a deep kick was marked in his own 22 by Hertford fly half Elliott McPhun.

The visiting side then stood and watched as he chased his clearance kick, then fly hacked the ball deeper into their half and eventually picked up and dived over the line for an unchallenged try.

The conversion from Kendrick stretched the lead to 27-17 at half-time.

Early pressure again from the hosts at the start of the second half saw another penalty from Kendrick following a failed drop goal attempt from McPhun that stretched their lead to 30-17 on 47 minutes.

Athletic started to have lots of possession but struggled to do much with it.

Attacks were regularly knocked back behind the gain line and errors compounded the deficit in metres, making the creation of meaningful chances a rarity.

Dorasamy did make a break but was often reduced to kicking the ball behind the home defence in an effort to create chances.

Having on one occasion forced a goal line drop out the visitors needlessly conceded territory when Rob Watkins stepped across and impeded a subsequent clearance kick giving Hertford a penalty inside the Bedford half which Kendrick converted to make the lead 33-17 on the hour.

Eventually the visitors did break through the home defence as Nathan Litchfield took the ball close to the home side’s line.

Once recycled the ball was spread to the right wing where Tana Stenson squeezed over in the corner for an unconverted third try.

The final quarter of an hour continued in much the same vein with Bedford Athletic having possession but lacking the penetration or accuracy necessary to fashion scoring chances.

The game did end with a string of penalties in the visitors' favour, leading to a lineout in the Hertford 22.

Once there they knocked the ball on again to bring an end to proceedings.

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