Hales victorious on Reunion Day
Old Halesonians 27 Bedford Athletic 23
This was to be a full day at Wassell Grove with over 100 former players meeting for the club annual reunion lunch hosted by Master of Ceremonies Simon Hussey and guest speaker, Welsh Raconteur Mel Thomas.
A full crowd gathered for another must win game for Hales, also to avenge the loss at Bedford earlier in the season. The early exchanges favoured Hales with some dominant forward power. Hales front row or Matt Probert, Sam Jones and Rich Taylor had the edge in the tight, Taylor again everywhere on the field.
The home side put some passages of play together with Loz Breese, skipper Steve Leach and Taylor making good ground. Hales scrum half Ben Tibbetts kept the home side moving forward with Chris Hooper at 10 giving centres Ben Barkley and Carl Robinson opportunities to break the Bedford defence.
After 20 minutes pressure on the visitors line by the Hales pack resulted in Leach driving over for a try, converted by Ian Briggs to lead 7 - 0.
Bedford, although second best up front, always looked dangerous in the backs and within 5 minutes had breached the Hales defence for an unconverted try out wide 7 - 5.
7 minutes later Hales again on the attack with the backs and a neat chip kick by Hooper saw wing Luke Smith on the end of it 12 - 5. Bedford came back as they did throughout the game with a penalty for Hales infringement as Neil Mason left the field with a yellow card for a high tackle, penalty kicked 12 - 8.
Again Hales came back with forward dominance land driving runs by Dick Sawyer, Breese and Taylor. Skipper Leach finished the move through the middle of the pack for his second try, converted by Briggs to lead 19 - 8 at half time.
The second half saw the visitors again working well, from a
near to the Hales line they took a quick ball which caught Hales out and scored an uncontested try to pull the score back to 19 - 13. This continued with a Hales line which didn't find the man, intercepted by Bedford for a well deserved converted try to take the lead 19 - 20 with 60 minutes played.
Prop Matt Young took the field for Hales in place of Probert and the Hales scrum again stepped up a gear. From a set piece Tibbetts fed Briggs on the burst, he broke through the Bedford defence, passing to wing Jay Reid for a try to lead 24 - 20. Bedford would not lie down, forcing another converted penalty 24 - 23.
Jamie Keen took the field for Hooper and Jay Martin on the back row to again lift the pressure. On 70 minutes both teams could have scored tries, Bedford again penalised under scrum pressure, Briggs converted and the home side managed to hold on for a well needed bonus point victory 27 - 23.
This Saturday Hales travel to Birmingham Solihull kick off 3 pm