Bedford Athletic 20 - Wimbledon 22
By Martin Rogers
Another hard-fought victory
Wimbledon travelled to another new opposition ground, Bedford Athletic, and their recently
installed artificial grass pitch. Our start was not helped by a facial injury after four minutes to
captain Josh Bayford who was replaced by James Gillespie at tighthead prop. The captaincy passed
to Chris York who when needed late in the second half rallied the team to a great defensive effort to
deny the home team a victory.
This did not seem to be the possible outcome when Wimbledon stormed into a 14 – 0 lead after 13
minutes with firstly centre Toby White and then flanker Kane Alboni scoring tries, the second after
sweeping attacks across the width of the pitch. For each try the conversions were made by outside
half James Moffatt. The first try came about after a centre field penalty for Bedford straying offside
and the kick was taken to the left-hand corner. From the resulting line-out Wimbledon won the ball
and a drive to the line by the forwards resulted with White scoring when the ball was spread.
But Bedford had none of this: they steadied their effort and gained parity in the forwards and then
started to make attacks of their own. Each team had periods of domination and Bedford’s outside
half Leo Mortimore put in some long kicks to make Wimbledon defend with eventually a penalty
being conceded 35m out. Bedford’s centre Smith took the points.
Shortly after this Wimbledon had a chance of their own, kicking to the corner but with Wimbledon
misjudging the line-out Bedford cleared their line. Wimbledon attacked again and this time it was
Gillespie who was held up just short of the line, but the home team had conceded another penalty
and Moffatt obliged from near the 22m line after 28 minutes.
Shortly after this the Bedford forwards tried a period of pick and go and eventually the ball came to
the blindside and right wing Harry Sawford-Smith forced his way over. The conversion by Mortimer
was successful and at 17 – 10 the home team were right back in the match.
Wimbledon then let their concentration slip with a penalty awarded to Bedford on the 10 metre line
with which Mortimore again succeeded to take the score to 17 – 13. The half finished with a long
kick from Wimbledon’s centre Freddie Hooper taking play deep into Bedford’s 22 metre area but the
referee decided that the first half had finished.
The second half saw Wimbledon regain possession from the kick-off and then attack the Bedford
line. Again Gillespie drove to near the line before the ball was released to the backs and first Hooper
then White carried forward with White scoring his second try before the defence could cover across
to him. The conversation attempt from Moffatt was missed, but 22 – 13 looked promising for a
However, Bedford had different ideas and the middle of the second half was their best period. A try
and conversion by Mortimer followed and at 22 – 20 with time running out a final long period of
close-quarter defence for Wimbledon followed. It is to the great credit of the Wimbledon team that
no penalties were conceded. With only the final seconds of the match remaining Mortimore tried a
dropped goal attempt that passed to the right of the posts. Wimbledon breathed a sigh of relief as
the referee blew for the end of the match.
Next Saturday Wimbledon will be at home to Shelford with a 2.00pm kick-off.