Bedford Blues v London Scottish
James Stephenson now has another bunch of clips to go on his YouTube highlight reel after running in a hat-trick of tries to help Bedford Blues to what was, in the end, a comfortable bonus point victory over London Scottish at Goldington Road. The winger made the most of his recall to the side after missing last week’s draw at Rotherham Titans, showing exactly why he ended last season as National League One’s top try scorer.
He was one of nine changes that director of rugby Mike Rayer had made to the side – partly because of rotation, partly because of being unhappy with the first half performance at Clifton Lane – and those that were given their chance certainly made the most of it, despite a scrappy first 40 minutes.
Bedford had been the dominant side in the early stages and were rewarded when Jake Sharp spotted a gap in the Exiles defence, putting through a clever grubber kick before picking up the ball and offloading to support runner Mark Atkinson. The former Esher man then sprinted in from around 25 metres out for an unconverted try on his debut for the club.
Scottish responded with their pack drawing a penalty from a scrum deep in Blues territory two minutes later, but goal kicking winger James Love was unable to add the three points.
The visiting forwards were very much on top at the set piece though and after a series of penalties and reset scrums five metres from the line, they eventually breached the defence on 18 minutes when Chevvy Pennycook got the ball down from close range.
Love converted to edge his side in front, but Bedford quickly regained their composure and were unfortunate to see Scott Spurling knock on while diving for the line after Sharp’s break had set up the attack. It was now turning into an attritional battle between the two opposing packs, and as the half wore on the Blues front eight started to regain some ground.