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Bedford Blues v Bristol
Bedford Blues produced a disappointing display as they suffered an 18-6 defeat against Bristol at Goldington Road on Saturday afternoon.
Bristol had won the last three meetings between the two sides coming into this fixture and they enjoyed the better of the first period as Adrian Jarvis kicked two penalties, while Luke Eves scored the first try of the afternoon.
James Pritchard converted two penalties after the break for the Blues, but Ryan Edwards’ converted try gave Bristol a comfortable win.
Bedford made four changes to the side that beat Plymouth two weeks ago. Dan Seal and Ben Gulliver started amongst the forwards, while Mark Kohler and Ollie Dodge took their place in the back line.
Plenty of aggression was on display as the two packs tore into each other from the start, knowing the outcome of this match could prove all-important come the end of the season.
Bristol had an early chance to put points on the board when they won a penalty after the Blues failed to release in the tackle, but Jarvis sent his kick went wide and, after the restart, it was Bedford’s turn to go on the attack.
The home side worked the ball well across the backs, however there was no way through the resolute Bristol defence.
And it was Andy Robinson’s men who took the lead as they kept the pressure on from a lineout and won a penalty that Jarvis converted.
Blues scrum-half Luke Baldwin then provided his side’s first meaningful attack as he broke away superbly from the Bristol defence and chipped the ball towards the try line.
Jack Tovey recovered the ball for the visitors, but he was dumped into the goal area for a five-metre scrum and the pressure was eventually lifted as Bristol were awarded a penalty.
Much of the play was now with Bristol and they were rewarded when Eves crashed over in the corner after some patient build-up play.
Jarvis missed the conversion from the touchline, but Bristol now lead 8-0.
Ruki Tipuna then looked to extend the visitors’ advantage as he burst out the back of a scrum inside the Blues half.
The scrum-half tried to slide a grubber kick in behind the Bedford defence, but Kohler was on hand to put the ball into touch.
There was a lack of fluidity to the Blues’ game and, as they tried to create openings, handling errors started to prove costly.
And, with half time approaching, Bristol extended their lead as a lineout inside the Blues 22 saw the home side concede another penalty that Jarvis converted.
Bristol led 11-0 at the break, but the first cheer of the second half belonged to Blues fans as Pritchard converted a penalty.
Yet any joy was short-lived as the visitors scored their second try soon after.
Bristol worked the ball superbly and spun it through the hands of Fautua Otto and Tovey before it was worked to Edwards who bludgeoned his way over.
Jarvis converted, however the Blues response was instant as Pritchard converted his second penalty of the afternoon.
But from the restart Bristol were again the aggressors as they had another try held up.
The visitors were not deterred and they continued to control the game as they stole another Blues lineout that enabled Otto to race down the touchline.
The buccaneering centre looked to have scored, but the home side had done enough to turn the ball over in the nick of time.
Bedford responded with a surge up the slope and got to within 10 metres of the Bristol line, only to be penalised for not releasing the ball quickly enough.
With time running out for Bedford, the visitors continued to starve them of possession
And there was to be no way back for the Blues as they tasted defeat at Goldington Road for only the second time this season.
Blues: Ricky Reeves (Ben Cooper 49), Neil Cochrane (Chris Locke 51), Dan Seal, Mike Howard, Ben Gulliver (Paul Tupai 67), Gregor Gillanders, Darren Fox (Joe Vandermolen 67), Don Barrell, Luke Baldwin (Darryl Veenendaal 60), Jake Sharp (Myles Dorrian 51), Mark Kohler, Mark Atkinson, Ollie Dodge (Brendan Burke 60)., James Stephenson, James Pritchard (C). P: Pritchard 2.
Bristol: Kyle Traynor, Ross Johnston (Rhys Lawrence 77), Wayne Thompson (Bruce Douglas 54), Mariano Sambucetti (Ben Glynn 54), Glen Townson, Marco Mama, Redford Pennycook (James Merriman 72), Mitch Eadie, Ruki Tipuna (C) (James Grindal 77), Adrian Jarvis (Tristan Roberts 74), Ryan Edwards, Luke Eves, Fautua Otto (Ben Mosses 80), George Watkins, Jack Tovey. T: Eves, Edwards. C: Jarvis. P: Jarvis 2.
Referee: Ian Tempest.
Touch Judges: Phil Watters and Simon McConnell.