Bedford Athletic snatch victory from the jaws of defeat at Rochford Hundred.

A late Leo Mortimer penalty saw Bedford Athletic snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in a 27-25 success away to Rochford Hundred, writes Jeremy Tyrrell.
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In a vital meeting between two of the bottom three sides at the start of the day a last minute penalty saw the visitors take the points, having trailed 19-0 at one stage.

The win moves Athletic up one place in the table and crucially now 11 points clear of Rochford Hundred in the relegation zone.

Points are still vital in the quest for survival though with the next match away to Harpenden in two Saturday’s time.

Crucial win for Bedford Athletic.Crucial win for Bedford Athletic.
Crucial win for Bedford Athletic.

From the kick-off Bedford Athletic were under pressure.

They allowed the kick off to bounce, conceded possession and were soon once again suffering from a slow start as Rochford dominated all aspects of play.

A high error count and a mounting number of penalties all added to their difficulties and the home side took full advantage to score three tries, two of which were converted to race into a 19-0 lead after the first quarter.

The visitors made some tactical changes and slowly worked their way back into the game, their first try coming on the half hour mark when Josh Cassell seemed to have knocked the ball on but was allowed to kick through and score, Mortimer converting to get the side on the scoreboard.

Crucially, Athletic scored again before half-time, again the score coming from the backs as Harry Sawford-Smith rounded off the move with Mortimer again converting to pass 100 points for the season as the side narrowed the gap to 19-14 at half time.

Bedford fortunes continued to improve after the break and they took the lead on the 50 minute mark as Andy Ince crossed for their third try of the day, Mortimer’s conversion giving them an unlikely 21-19 advantage.

The final half hour was a nervy affair as befitted a match between two relegation threatened sides for whom the result was vital.

On two further occasions the lead swapped hands with first Rochford and then Bedford through Mortimer again kicking penalties as the visitors led 24-22 going into the final five minutes.

All their hard work seemed undone with three minutes to go as Rochford again kicked a penalty for a 25-24 lead, and this seemed confirmed in the final minute with Rochford awarded a penalty in a kickable position.

But rather than secure the victory with a kick, the home side decided to go for the fourth and bonus point try.

A tap penalty saw the pressure mount as wave after wave of attacks pounded the visitors' line.

Stern and unflinching defence met everything that was thrown at it and eventually Athletic turned the ball over.

Leo Mortimer launched the counter attack from his own dead ball area finding Felix Mallalieu in space. He made a half break and then found the pacy Luke Denham who streaked down the length of the pitch being held up just short of the line.

The visiting team arrived to clear the breakdown, but their hosts infringed conceding the penalty that Mortimer kicked for the points and victory in the most unlikely of circumstances.

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