Broadstreet RFC overcame the conditions and spirited opposition at the Putnoe Woods, Bedfordshire ground of win-less Bedford Athletic RFC, to take maximum points.
The wet, windy, muddy conditions threatened to reduce the game to slog mode but to their credit, both sides endeavoured to move the ball about, and with no little skill, at that! The downside was the 30 plus penalties and free kicks awarded (one every two minutes) throughout the encounter, much to the disappointment of the rain-bedraggled supporters of both teams writes Bob Harcourt.
Nevertheless, despite eternal set pieces, the action there-from was quite entertaining with both teams moving the ball through the hands; not always to best advantage, given the conditions, but, resulting in some skilful and entertaining passages of play.
‘Street’s dominant scrummaging secured first points through a penalty try following a scrum collapse on Bedford’s line. Lee Chapman converted for an early lead, 0 – 7.
‘Street then squandered two real chances, again on Bedford’s goal line, through two knock-ons when spinning the ball out, with the forwards feet from scoring. The latter attempt allowed battling Bedford to gain several consecutive penalties, resulting in play being taken to the right hand corner; where a 5 metre lineout drive bagged a try for forward Ben Middleton. Converted by James Mortimer, it was all square at 7 – 7 after 13 minutes.
The Coventry outfit took just five minutes to respond when hooker Stewart Pearl peeled off a 10 metre lineout, then dummied, to cut in for a well-crafted try. Chapman added the conversion from wide, 7 – 14. A period of continuous see-saw penalty awards reduced play to a virtual stalemate; often seeing the attacking side repelled to mid-field despair.
Eventually, a good left field sortie saw the returning Andy (‘Ferret’) Murray, out since September, halted 15 metres out and desperate defence by full-back Ben Affleck saw him sin-binned for killing play. From the ensuing lineout, ‘Street, after a series of drives, put prop Ben ‘Blockbuster’ Dawes over for a try. Chapman again converted with 5 minutes of the half remaining.
Half Time: Bedford 7 Broadstreet 21
‘Street piled on the pressure after the break to pull away to safety with two well-taken tries, but not before wing Jeff Gregson had lost the ball forward, having intercepted around half way, with a clear run in looking likely. First, replacement back-row Alex Beddows finished of a fluid handling attack down the left touch line following a half way break by Nick Thatcher; converted from wide out by the reliable boot of fly half Chapman, 7 – 28; then, following Bedford’s restart, a length of the field beauty, involving another break by scrum half Nick Thatcher, supported by centre, Todd Freemantle (“His father never had that pace”: noted Mrs Freemantle, “But as a front row’ – he was built for comfort, not speed”)! lock Andy Solomon and finished off by previously unlucky winger Jeff Gregson. Chapman narrowly failed from wide left, 7 – 33.
There followed another period of penalty awards against both sides and as ‘Street again picked up the tempo, laying siege to Bedford’s line, handling errors, gutsy defence and indeterminate indiscretions put paid to several scoring opportunities for the visitors.
As it transpired, an increasingly rare home side chance was skilfully taken when Bed. Ath’s James Mortimer put Ben Affleck away down the left touch line; Affleck kicked over the defence and whilst unable to collect his kick, the supporting Ben Johnson was on hand to dive on the hacked on, in goal, ball. The conversion attempt failed and the score remained at 12 – 33 until the final whistle; conditions and play having deteriorated into centre field, penalty ridden, stalemate, yet again.
A job well done, under difficult circumstances, with valuable full points gained. We are home next week to Bourneville. Say no more!
Cameo of the week: Stewart Pearl’s show and go for try number two.
Team: Harris Tom; Gregson, Richards, Freemantle, Murray; Chapman, Thatcher; Dawes, Pearl, Darkintis; Solomon M, Solomon A; Zutic, Carney, Wood (C). Reps: Pendleton, Beddows, McGrory.