WESTCLIFF returned to winning ways with a 17-13 triumph against Bedford Athletic.

The victory kept Westcliff third in the London & SE Premier Division standings and ended a run of two successive defeats, much to the delight of their director of rugby Rick Compton.

“It was a tough game that we are delighted to have won,” said Compton.

“Bedford are a good side who arrived in good form and determined to add to our recent disappointments.

“We were stretched in key areas and had to be creative with a few of our selections, so the result was very welcome given we were never at our best.

“Full credit to Bedford for the way they pushed us to the hilt, they have proved to be a great addition to the league after a slow start and we have had two very close games with them.

“Now our attention will turn to the trip next week to take on CS Stags, where another stern test will no doubt await us.”

From the outset, Saturday’s game was keenly contested before Westcliff began to take control.

But the match remained scoreless until the closing moments of the half when Westcliff turned over possession before their relentless pressure resulted in Jim Smith going over to put the opening points on the board.

Ben McKeith added the conversion before a Bedford penalty cut Westcliff’s lead to 7-3 at the break.

However, the visitors started the second half strongly and two tries in quick succession saw them go 13-7 in front.

Westcliff fought back and a spell of pressure led to a late, high tackle which saw the visiting skipper yellow carded.

McKeith kicked the resulting penalty and, still with a man advantage, Westcliff made the breakthrough when a loose ball at the breakdown was scooped up by Jake Spivey, who made a few crucial yards before deftly offloading to Seb Reynolds who raced in under the posts.

With the conversion added, Westcliff led once again at 17-13 but the game remained in the balance.

That balance might have shifted once more when Westcliff winger Ross Merrick also saw a yellow card for an uncompromising but not entirely legal tackle in the midfield.

But the home side dug deep to secure a narrow victory.

Westcliff: Spivey, Brown, Bannister, Reynolds, Merrick, McKeith, Morrant, Weston, Maloney, Binneman, Vandermolen, Dartnell, Marsh, Hatton, Smith

Replacements: Meakin, Anderson-Brown & Jones