Ath lift the cup for a double-winning term

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Bedford Athletic claimed the East Midlands Cup with a 30-19 victory over Peterborough Lions last week to complete a league and cup double-winning season.

Devastating attack in the first half and ferocious defence in the second proved a winning combination for Bedford as two teams who had both achieved promotion in their respective leagues this term went head-to-head in the cup final for a second year in a row.

Bedford took the lead on 80 seconds. Lions kicked clear from their own 22 and fly half James Mortimer rifled a pass to Josh Cassell, who beat the defence to cross for a 5-0 lead.

Bedford made it 8-0 on 12 minutes after Mortimer kicked a penalty goal.

Athletic continued to rebuff the Lions and break at pace, demonstrated in the 18th minute when a turnover saw Cassell charge upfield before feeding StephenWoodhead, who crossed. Mortimer’s conversion made it 15-0.

When another Lions attack was scythed down, Bedford returned play with interest and a Mortimer penalty extended the advantage to 18-0.

On the half-hour a penalty was drilled to touch and Athletic set a platform from a five-metre lineout. The forwards drove hard before the ball was spun wide to Woodhead who crossed for 23-0 lead.

This finally sparked Lions into life and their centre Semisi Tei wove his way through the Bedford defence before feeding Sam Crooks for their first try, converted by Nico Defeo on 35 minutes.

Lions kept the pressure up and another attack was stopped illegally. From the penalty Lions drove a lineout and Jack Lewis scored to cut the lead to 23-12 at half-time.

Athletic attacked from the start of the second period and Lions No 8 Tom Gulland was sin-binned for a penalty.

Strong Lions defence kept Bedford at bay and the game broke up into a fast and loose affair with gaps across the pitch. Play went from end-to-end and it was Lions who finished on top, Defeo scoring and converting to leave the Bedford advantage at 23-19.

The kick-off was regathered and immediately Bedford got a try back as Harry Sawford-Smith crossed, Mortimer converting to make it 30-19.

Eventually Lions ran out of ideas and out of time as Bedford held on for a famous win.

The victory saw Bedford secure a league and cup double to add to the local Bedfordshire Cup and East Midlands II league titles already won.

Their form will give the side confidence of being competitive when they advance next season to the league above, most likely the London & South East Premier.