Bedford Athletic bounce back with thumping win

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Bedford Athletic returned to winning ways with a seven-try 43-14 victory at Mansfield at the weekend.

With a 24-0 lead, the bonus point had been secured by half-time and the visitors controlled the match and eased to the win – outscoring their hosts by three tries to two in the second half.

The first half was pretty much one-way traffic. This was all the more surprising as Bedford Athletic were playing up the slope, albeit with the wind at their backs.

Time and time again they made significant inroads into the Mansfield defence.

Tommy Mills nearly opened the scoring when he was bundled into touch in the right hand corner but, on an afternoon when Athletic dominated the hosts’ lineout as much as they controlled their own, they soon stole the ball and spread it wide for David Simpson to cross for the opening try in the right hand corner.

In the 15th minute, Mills weaved his way through the home defence to touch down under the posts, and James Mortimer converted both scores for a 14-0 lead.

Charlie Darlow was next on the scoresheet in the 22nd minute and, with five minutes to play until half-time, Bedford Athletic drove a lineout close to the Mansfield line and Rob Watkins was on hand to pick up and dive over for the 24-0 interval lead.

Mansfield came back into the game after the break and missed a penalty kick for goal and then their scrum-half Alan Symcox was just short of the line following a lineout drive.

Crucially, Bedford repelled these early attacks and made the game safe with the first score of the half as the team broke from deep and Luke Levitt was on hand to finish off a sweeping move down the right; Mortimer converted for a 31-0 lead.

In the final 20 minutes, Mansfield did score two tries through Scott Bailey and Joe Symcox that their persistence probably deserved – both converted by Ross Elms.

However, on each occasion Athletic replied in kind; on the first occasion Ben Johnson romped away up the right wing for the side’s sixth try of the day and then a perfectly executed backs move saw debutante Leon Fifield run through a massive midfield gap for the seventh and final try, again converted by Mortimer.

The team remain in fifth place, level on points with Old Northamptonians.