Athletic go top after an emphatic win at Newark

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Bedford Athletic moved to the top of the Midlands One East table with a thumping 38-0 away victory at Newark.

In a game which they dominated from start to finish, the visitors scored five tries and restricted Newark’s scoring opportunities to a minimum.

Athletic opened the scoring when quick hands from full-back Charlie Darlow allowed Stephen Woodhead to chip the defence and gather his own kick to score. James Mortimer converted to gave Bedford a 7-0 lead after seven minutes.

Five minutes later the backs once again ran hard at the home defence and accurate handling from Steve Smith, Tommy Mills and Darlow set Tom Dolemore free down the left wing to cross for the second try, Mortimer again converting.

Still the visitors surged forward and a hanging kick from Mortimer allowed captain Rob Watkins to feed Smith to run under the posts unopposed for the third try.

On the half hour mark, Athletic stole the home throw at a line out and Watkins found the space to score. Mortimer’s conversion meant that Athletic led 28-0 at half-time.

Athletic re-emphasised their control at the start of the second half as Mortimer kicked a penalty.

The visitors did not help themselves with a rash of penalties seeing first Tom Neale and then Stefan Hughes-Brand sin-binned on 53 and 57 minutes respectively.

Still the visiting defence held firm and any attacks that did materialise close to their line were quickly snuffed out despite their shortage of numbers.

Restored to a full complement, Athletic finished the game the stronger and – with Mortimer continuing to give them field position – eventually a lineout in the home 22 was won. Although the initial forward drive was halted, the backs exploited the space for Woodhead to cap a man of the match performance by crossing for his second try.

With a bonus point win and Derby’s failure to secure a bonus point in their win at Market Rasen, Bedford Athletic inherit top spot in the league.

However, they will face a stiff test of their credentials as third placed Newbold provide the opposition on Saturday at Putnoe Wood with a 2.15pm kick-off.