Bedford Tigers (A) 8 : Nottingham Outlaws 88

Nottingham Outlaws travelled down the M1 on Saturday to play Bedford Tigers Academy in a hastily rearranged friendly against their Southern Premier counterparts. Both teams used the occasion to play larger squads but it was the Outlaws that came out on top with a huge 88-8 victory.

With Leamington Royals pulling out of the opening league fixture at late notice the chance to give the squad another run out was gratefully accepted by the coaching team and a squad of 22 players headed south for the friendly.

Both teams took to the field on what was probably the hottest day of the year but it was the Outlaws that started the stronger with Adam Ward opening the scoring on the left wing as the ball moved out wide for the first time and almost straight from the restart Gaz Whitfield stretched the lead out t0 10-0, scoring a try from a well-rehearsed move close to the line and then adding the extras.

On the fifteen minute mark the Outlaws added two more trys with Mikey Anderson scoring on his debut with a well-taken effort and Jimmy Goodwin marking his return to the side after a four year absence with a typically no-nonsense effort close to the line.

At this stage of the game the points were racking up at the rate of more than a point a minute and when James Hood, Luke Wadding and Jack Jonson went over almost untouched the scoreboard could hardly keep up with the scoring rate!

With the coaching staff looking on the Outlaws were in no-mood to ease up the pressure and good hands down the line saw debutants Jacob Butler and Alfie Jones open their try scoring account for the club with both newcomers already showing that they will be more than useful additions to the squad this season.

As the half-time hooter approached the hard working home side did manage to mount a few attacks of their own and they engineered a well taken try to open their account and close out the scoring at the end of the first stanza with the Outlaws way out ahead at 48-8.

With the coaching team making no fewer than six interchanges at the break the team took their foot off the gas after the re-start and in the first set after the break the home club capitalised on some weak Outlaws defending on the line to double their score and reduce the deficit to 8-48.

Stung by this reversal and with some stern words from Captain Ward ringing in their ears the Outlaws soon upped the ante with rangy winger Adam Ward breaking free from the forty metre zone to win a foot race to the line and within a minute the  long-striding winger was in full flow again to complete his first ever hattrick for the club.

The next Outlaws attack yielded another try with powerful centre James Hood breaking loose on the halfway line with a huge fend on his opposite number before scorching down the pitch to draw the fullback and release Harry Hemmingway in support and he duly scampered over untouched.

The next two scores went to two old war horses who have come back into the fold after a few years away from the club. The first of the duet came from Jimmy Goodwin who stole the ball in a one-on-one tackle before racing away to score and then John Hemmingway showed that he still had what it takes with a fine solo effort to mark his return to the game.

With the game moving into the closing stages the Outlaws added two try’s in the last three minutes with James Hood once again using his size and strength to break clear and then Haz Ashby wrapping up the scoring with a crafty show-and-go that saw the stand-off shoot through a gap to score and then he calmly added the extras from bang in front to wrap up the game with the Outlaws way out in front at 8-88.

After the game the Outlaws coaching team expressed their satisfaction to the players on a job well done but there will no doubt be some much tougher challenges ahead for the team, starting with next Saturdays league opener against Oxford Cavaliers at Lenton Lane (2.30pm).