Bedford Athletic produced a resilient performance to contain and then overcome league rivals Derby in a 29-17 win away from home.
Despite being under severe early pressure, Athletic maintained their composure to score 26 unanswered points to seal victory.
Derby were on the board within four minutes as a couple of early penalties gave them a five-metre lineout from which second row Josh Tilford scored at the back of a driving maul.
Their second try on 16 minutes arrived in similar manner; Athletic disrupted the attacking lineout but failed to make the ball safe with prop forward Jamie Twigg touching down.
Neither try was converted and James Mortimer interrupted the early pressure with a penalty to get the visitors on the scoreboard.
As the game wore on, Bedford began to contain Derby’s frantic early pace and fashioned chances of their own.
Both wings had opportunities to go clear, Rob Watkins was proving a nuisance to Derby all over the pitch and Luke Levitt led a back row starting to drive Derby back at every opportunity.
Although no clear cut chances were created, Mortimer kicked two penalties to narrow the score to 10-9 at half-time.
The visitors’ physicality came to the fore early in the second half as they disrupted an early Derby attack and David Simpson broke the line superbly to set up a position deep in the Derby half.
When the ball came wide, prop Guiseppe Picanza was on hand to score Athletics’ first try of the day.
Mortimer didn’t convert but Derby were losing their composure and two sin binnings handed Bedford the advantage which Mortimer capitalised on with another penalty for a 17-10 lead.
Pressure built from the visitors and eventually full-back Tom Dolemore scythed through the defence. Tommy Mills was on hand to support the move and Rob Watkins finished under the posts.
Even when faced with a Derby restored to 15 men, Athletic scored again. This time an attacking lineout saw the ball spun wide to Stephen Woodhead for the third try of the game which saw Bedford Athletic lead 29-10.
The final minutes were largely a defensive effort for the visitors and eventually, with Andy Ince in the sin bin, Derby did cross for a converted try to finish the scoring.
Bedford Athletic will take the confidence of a third win in a row into their next game at home to Huntingdon on Saturday, kick-off at 3pm.