Bedford Blues v Jersey

Friday, 11 March, 2016 - 19:45
1st XV Cup
Lost 15-19

Bedford Blues went out of the British and Irish Cup on Friday evening as they went down 15-19 to Jersey.

The Islanders have proven to be the thorn in the side for Mike Rayer's men this season as they racked up their third win out of three in the league and cup.

Bedford were left massively frustrated at the final whistle as they did have opportunities to win the tie but on one too many occasions the greasy ball slipped out of hand - most notably when Piers O’Conor made a fantastic break with Pat Tapley in support but the winger just couldn’t grasp the odd shaped ball.

With moisture in the air, it was no surprise to see both teams sending in aerial bombardment during the opening exchanges as Jake Sharp and Brendan Cope punted the ball high on numerous occasions, but the visitors had the first chance to put points on the board when a strong scrum won a penalty. With the ball 42 metres out, Cope swung his boot at it but the effort came down just wide of the sticks.

Playing up the slope, Jersey maintained possession and when a chip over the top didn’t quite trickle into touch, Bedford had no option but to concede a lineout in their 22. Jersey secured the lineout and then trundled forward with flanker James Freeman dotting down – something that would repeat itself twice more over the course of the evening – but Cope couldn’t convert.

Bedford responded well to the early setback with Tom Griffiths - picking up where he left off last week – barging his way through the defence and towards the try line. Jordan Burns was desperately trying to move Jersey’s defence from over the ball, but they did enough to slow down the attack but the ball was knocked on by the Blues as they spread it wide.

Sharp sent a kick deep into Jersey’s 22, but the Islanders dealt with it and then punted up field. However, Pat Tapley managed to wriggle his way through the defence and hurtled towards the centre of the field before passing to his opposite winger Dean Adamson who ran clear to score an unconverted try.

Bedford then took the lead two minutes later when Griffiths was in the right place to create space and this time it was Tapley on hand to cross the whitewash with Sharp adding the extras to make it 12-5.

Another penalty allowed Jersey to find touch in Bedford’s 22 and the Islanders set up another driving maul only for Josh Buggea to come straight through the middle and dump the ball-carrier perfectly.

The Blues were being pegged back and Jersey had an ominous looking five metre scrum which could have been trouble when number eight Nick Haining broke away, but he wasn’t expecting to be put down by Jordan Burns (with a little help from Joel Conlon) before a Blues foot punted the ball clear of danger.

Jersey kept coming though and in the 27th minute the game was tied when Freeman scored his second of the evening.  Bedford were judged to have wheeled a scrum and Cope sent the ball to touch. Jersey collected, set up the maul and went over with Cope adding the extras.

The visitors were in the Blues 22 again soon afterwards when another penalty went their way, but Mike Howard was on hand to pinch the lineout ball and Bedford cleared. Jersey were on the attack with five minutes in the half remaining as Cope and Joel Dudley linked up well, but it was Jersey’s turn to knock on with the try line begging.

Goldington Road was in fine voice after the interval and Bedford were nearly in from the off as Sharp sent a delicate chip over the Jersey defence and into the arms of skipper Mike Le Bourgeois, but as his pass went out to Burns it dropped out of Burns’ hands much to his annoyance.

Bedford soon had a chance for points when a strong scrum earned a penalty and Sharp sent it straight over in the 42nd minute to make it 15-19. Sadly, it was to be the Blues last score of the evening.

Cope had an opportunity to level the scores again with a pretty straight-forward effort, but the usually reliable fly half sent his effort wide of the mark much to the Blues relief.

Bedford were building momentum and looked to run at every opportunity. Justin Blanchet and Paul Tupai carried well before the backs went on a run but the ball came loose and Jersey had a reprieve. 

The Blues were on the front foot as changes in the front row saw a more even contest and a scrum allowed  Bedford to break with the ball being spread to the right wing only for a Jersey hand to slap the ball away. The Goldington Road faithful wanted a penalty, but the ref said scrum and the game continued.

In the 55th minute Bedford were reduced to 14 men when Camilo Parilli-Ocampo was carded. The Blues pack appeared to have the upper hand and were moving forward, but the ref said there was an issue with the bind and as a team warning had been issued, the replacement was sent to the bin.

Bedford were under the cosh as Jersey sent the ball to touch and then a high tackle allowed the Islanders to put the ball out even nearer the Blues try line. It was then time for the inevitable as the lineout was collected, the maul formed and Freeman went over with centre Lewis Robling converting.

As the game entered the final ten minutes, Bedford were on the attack when a penalty gave them territory and a lineout in the Jersey 22. As the pack secured the ball and looked to set up their own drive, it fell just shy of the line and the ref awarded a scrum to the visitors which was then succeeded by a penalty much to the irritation of the Blues pack.

Then came the moment to forget. O’Conor had taken the ball well and galloped along the right wing with Tapley in support. It seemed a certainty as O’Conor drew the defence and released the pass but Tapley just couldn’t gather the ball and the Blues chance to win literally slipped away. 

Jersey breathed a huge sigh of relief and then saw the final minutes of the game out with pick and go rugby before punting the ball to touch and progressing to the semi-final of the competition.

See more of Nigel Rudgard's pictures HERE.

Next Home Match

Saturday 27th October
1st XV Championship
Goldington Road



See more pictures courtesy of Nigel Rudgard at