Old Halesonians 29 Bedford Athletic 10

HALESONIANS continue to head National League 3 Midlands but they didn't have matters all their own way against rock-bottom Bedford at a windswept Wassell Grove - writes Nick Pullen.

That was after Hales started the game like a house on fire and took the lead within two minutes.

An early driving maul saw the ball suddenly whipped out to outside centre Andy Holloway who raced unopposed through a non-existent Bedford defence to bag a try by the posts which full back Chris Hooper duly converted.

But if anyone thought Hales would go onto overwhelm a plucky Bedford side, they had another think coming.

Bedford, who had lost all their previous eight games this season, battled back and pegged Hales back inside their own half for long periods.

Although the gale-force wind wasn't helping matters, Hales always looked a threat when they ran the ball, but Bedford struck back when right wing Luke Levitt squeezed his way over for a try in the corner on 36 minutes.

The conversion never stood  a chance in the conditions.

Credit to Hales, who came straight back to snap up a second try on the stroke of half time.

A penalty kick into the corner resulted in line-out ball being taken before Hales' pack drove skipper Rich Taylor over the line for a try and half time lead of 12-5.

The gripping wind appeared less adventageous in the second half, but Bedford spent most of that period pegged back inside their own half.

The pressure soon told as Hales spun the ball along the line for centre Andy Hollway to secure a third try on 50 minutes.

But on a rare occasion Bedford broke out of their own territory, they secured a superbly taken try by impressive full back Will Affleck.

Yet despite the close proximety of the posts, fly half James Mortimer still managed to miss, to leave Hales 17-10 ahead.

The main objective now was to obtain a fourth and more importantly a bonus point try, which they finally achieved in the 75th minute, winger Luke Smith sprinting clear to score as Bedford's overworked defence began to toil.

There was still time for a fifth Hales try. With Bedford now camped on their own line, fly half Steve Powell powered his way over, before Hooper made light of the elements to convert.

Hales were good value for their victory, but bottom side Bedford proved there are no easy games at this level.

Hales: Hooper; Oxford, Holloway, Robinson, Smith; Powell, Trinham; Dempsey, Fitzgerald, Taylor; Sawyer, Breese; Young, Jordan, Evans. Reps: Blake, King, Church.