A five-pointer! Dudley?s first of the season and while they remain perilously placed in the coldest part of the Third Division cellar, they gave themselves an injection of hope with this faintly wacky victory at Heathbrook.
They actually lost the second half to a side playing with 14 men but never mind the quality or the statistics. This was a victory, it was embellished by a try bonus and the club?s determination to hang on to their National League status is palpable. ?It?s still in our hands,? said head coach Dale Smallman when the final whistle blew. ?Our next three games are all winnable and I think we?ve set ourselves up.?
They will have if Dudley can find themselves a shade more physical clout. Their lack of a decent degree of shudder appears to be their problem. They?ve got good attacking ideas, they?re nimble and quick but they have a serious lack of the brick-wall mentality. Even against the lowest team in the league, their tackling was mild.
?We?ll be working hard on our defence,? promised Smallman. Bedford, now doomed, caused Dudley problems even before their big second row, Mouritz Botha, was sent off for kicking someone late in the first half.
The Ath, as they?re called, had a number of dangerous individuals whom DK couldn?t tackle, not first up, anyway, but their collective nous was negligible.
They might have looked a bit brittle but at least Dudley played like a team, with a back row who could pull most of the loose strands together.
The foundation of this victory was down to them. And there was a big emphasis on the line-out. In the first seven minutes of the match Bedford kicked four penalties into touch. Which resulted in four attacking line-outs.
Dudley pinched three of them and this was to have a profound effect on what was to follow. ?Tis comforting knowledge that the other side?s line-out can?t hurt you.
It?s not likely that DK would claim to own the most devastating driving maul in the division; it wasn?t a paralysing factor even when Bedford were a forward short. But it set up the first try after eleven minutes.
There was a lot of squirming and squeezing in the lefthand corner but it was scrumhalf Allan Mitchell who inserted himself in the action and snaffled the score that was improved by Andrew McLellan?s best kick of an undistinguished collection.
Mitchell had a profitable afternoon and he claimed three of the six tries. But his masterpiece was the 70-yard ? at least ? touch that he found that established the position from which Dudley scored their second try after 25 minutes.
With territorial advantages abounding, Steve Smart made the first break and in DK?s most expressive thrust, Matt Wagstaff, Hona Kingi and Jon Chance combined before inviting Wagstaff back to finish the move.
The strength of the driving maul usually depends on its foundation and in the 39th minute, from a line-out, Dudley constructed a beauty, which was made so by the force with which Kingi joined it as No 2 in the launch. Over it trundled and again it was Mitchell who took the honours, McLellan converting.
In all, there were a dozen stoppages for injury, which was why the first half was in its 47th minute when there was a momentous happening.
A couple of days before the start of the seventh month of the season, Dudley claimed their very first try bonus. It came through a terrific run by Ian Gowland down the left and DK went in at half time warmed by a lead of 24-nil and heartened that they only had 14 men to play against for the rest of the match.
Peter Knight and Adam Cullen sent Mitchell in again within a minute of the restart and the rest was to be a lap of honour. In fact, Bedford caught them while the celebrations were in the process of preparation, scored three tries in 15 minutes and at 31-19, were looking at a monumental upset.
How close might they have come had Botha, a towering forward, been there to help them, they were entitled to wonder? Bedford brought on Andy Bennett at half time to play an all-over-the-backs sort of game.
He was on the left wing when he outsprinted the home defence to gain the touchdown from a kick ahead and he was on the right when he made the break that brought Jamie Elphick a try.
When Bedford took the ball left from a scrummage, Hughes Groshens, strode in for try No 3 and with Ashley Tapper making two conversions, Ath were giving this game quite a shot.
That is not to say that Dudley panicked or, realistically, looked like losing. But they were relieved when the ever- industrious Cullen strode over to wrap things up ten minutes from time.
DUDLEY KINGSWINFORD: A McLellan; S Smart, W Port, M Wagstaff, I Gowland; E Smith, A Mitchell; W Millard, S Such, H Kingi, S Homer, J Chance (rep B Connett, 70 min), I Langford, P Knight, A Cullen.
BEDFORD ATHLETIC: C Richards (A Bennett, h/t); J Elphick, H Groshens, P Elphick, L Anker; A Tapper, D Jenkins; S Stevens, P Saffy, R van der Groot (M Curry, 10), M Botha, M Hudson, R Thomson, S Grant, D Johnson (R Wilken, 44).
Referee: Mr R Parker-Sedgemore.