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Bedford Blues v Ealing Trailfinders
Bedford Blues recorded their second win of the season – and the first in the Greene King IPA Championship – as they overcame a determined Ealing Trailfinders side 31-14.
With severe weather warnings on the horizon – and not wanting to quote bedtime stories - there was plenty of huffing and puffing around Goldington Road but the Blues came out on top with a five try haul which included two apiece for Ollie Dodge and James Pritchard while Mike Le Bourgeois added one into the mix.
With the Sky cameras in attendance it looked as if Bedford were going to put on quite a show as they ran in the first try after 12minutes. Ealing had started lively and were not afraid to have a proper crack at the Blues but when Jake Sharp saw Dodge standing on his own over on the left wing, he sent a fine kick straight into his arms and Dodge just had to step inside to score with Pritchard adding the extras.
Any hopes of an easy afternoon were soon expelled though as the visitors started to make their possession count. Bedford were being penned back and when a pass was fired at Sharp he unfortunately juggled it straight into the arms of the oncoming Tom Wheatcroft who passed it down the line to fullback Andrew Henderson who scored. Wheatcroft then levelled the scores with the conversion.
Ealing Trailfinders – who won promotion from National One last season – then showed that they had plenty of grit upfront. After turning down a pretty simple looking three points from a penalty – something they did several times during the afternoon - the pack took lineout ball and then went through a series of phases inching ever closer to the Blues try line. It looked as if Steve Pape had come close but with a ruck over the try line, scrum half Morgan Thompson dotted down and the video ref confirmed he had grounded the ball under the posts giving Wheatcroft a simple conversion to make it 7-14.
Bedford’s reply should have been immediate had it not been for a loose hand. The forwards carried well into Ealing’s 22 before Luke Baldwin sent a pass out wide. There was enough pace on the ball to find any of the four men outside but a hand came in from Sharp and diverted the ball into touch.
A second try did arrive though and Sharp was again integral to its constructions. The Blues forwards did plenty of grafting before the ball came to the fly half. With men outside but the defence up quick, he sent a peach of a grubber towards the corner which evaded Le Bourgeois but not Dodge who slapped down to score but it went unconverted.
Five minutes after then interval and things looked a little rosier for the Blues when Pritchard got his first of the afternoon. The Blues had ground their way into the Trailfinder’s 22 before the ball came to the backs. Sharp made a darting run to gain a couple of metre’s and as the last line of defence came crunching in, he floated a pass to Pritchard to go over besides the posts with the Canadian international converting his own effort.
Ealing continued to fight tooth-and-nail throughout the game and they were always looking for a route back into this one. Their lineout continued to frustrate the Blues while their backs were always willing to have a run. That said, there was some good cover defence from the Blues with the likes of Brendan Burke and Nick Fenton-Wells getting in on the action throughout.
It took until the 63rd minute for the Blues to get an all important fourth try. Don Barrell took a lineout ball in the Ealing 22 which the forwards then mauled on. Scott Spurling broke from the back and jinked his way infield before Sharp delivered a super pass out to Le Bourgeois who scored with Pritchard converting.
Ealing continued to look for at least a bonus point but despite having plenty of possession they just couldn’t find a way through. Darryl Veenendaal – who came on for his 100th appearance in a Blues shirt – showed some fantastic footballing skills to dribble the ball into Ealing’s 22 before a defender carried it to touch but Bedford then failed to capitalise.
The Blues did get one final chance though which they took with both hands to send the fans home happy. The Blues scrum – which was solid for most of the match – made ground and allowed the backs to break free. With the ball being carried one way then the other, it finally came out to Barrell who near the left wing. The blindside could have tried to go over himself but as the tackle came in, he popped the ball to the onrushing Pritchard who touched down in the corner to seal the win 31-14.
See more pictures of today's match courtesy of Nigel Rudgard at http://frontrow.photium.com