Bedford Athletic began their new season with a 47-20 win at Wellingborough on Saturday.
In a subdued performance back in Midlands One East following a season in the league above, Bedford outscored their hosts by seven tries to two but lacked fluency and at times cohesion.
The errors were prevalent from the off as a dropped ball gave Wellingborough field position which they capitalised on with a Ryan Mackie penalty in the third minute.
There was little early possession for the visitors but when they did get the ball they stretched play and when Nick Thomas broke down the left, Stephen Woodhead was in support to score the first try on nine minutes. James Mortimer converted.
But they continued to struggle with their structure and some uncharacteristic errors led to a second Mackie penalty on 19 minutes.
From the restart Stuart Livesey ran back a poor clearance and some good passing down the right saw Andy Ince reach the line for Bedford’s second try. Mortimer’s conversion made it 14-6.
A late hit on Woodhead gave Athletic a penalty and from the lineout Charlie Darlow broke through the defence with Woodhead on hand to score his second try.
Woodhead completed his hat-trick before half-time with another break down the right and Mortimer’s conversion made it 26-6.
Early in the second half Bedford’s pack drove their hosts backwards after a five-metre scrum, allowing Tom Orton to touch down for the try. Mortimer converted again to build a 33-6 lead.
Strong defence was then needed and the visitor’s defended their line manfully.
Bedford became profligate in possession and paid the price when Mackie slipped three tackles to score the first try for the hosts on the hour mark. Carelessness continued and it resulted in an interception try plucked out of the air and scored by Peter Vickers on 68 minutes and two conversions narrowed the gap to 33-20.
But Bedford recomposed themselves to close out the game and scored two further tries from Josh Cassell for the 47-20 victory.
Athletic travel to Bugbrooke this Saturday (3pm).