Bedford Blues v London Scottish

Friday, 1 January, 2016 - 15:00
1st XV Championship
Won 31-19

Bedford Blues kicked off the New Year with a bonus point victory over London Scottish in front of Sky Sports cameras as well as Goldington Road’s biggest crowd of the season, a whopping 4341.

A dominant first half display with tries from Mike Howard, Mark Flanagan, Nick Fenton-Wells and Michael Le Bourgeois secured a bonus point before the interval while Jake Sharp added three conversion before Fenton-Wells – who was awarded the Sky Sports Man of the Match – went over for a second after the break. London Scottish certainly played their part with two tries from Rory Hughes and Chris Walker while a penalty try went their way late on, but nothing would deny the Blues victory.

Bedford kept hold of the ball early on and went through numerous phases in the opening exchanges but a grubber kick from Henry Taylor rolled out of touch and allowed the visitors to catch their breath after a hectic start.

A penalty went the Blues way from an early scrum and Taylor didn’t hesitate to scamper towards the line with plenty of support. Bedford went through the phases with men outside, but as the final ball came out it was knocked on by Phil Boulton and the Exiles were off the hook again.

The opening ten minutes was staged very much in London Scottish’s half and when they did have the ball, the Blues were quick to snuff out any danger and build another wave of attacks.

One of those waves finally paid off as Howard opened the scoring in the 14th minute. A kick through pinned London Scottish back but as they tried to kick clear, Sharp made a brilliant tackle to drag the man to touch and earn a five metre lineout. The ball was secured and following a few rolling efforts, Howard went over to score the unconverted try.

Sharp’s attempted drop goal in the 18th minute drifted wide, but the Blues extended their lead two minutes later when Flanagan went over. Sharp had broken superbly but a hand came in from London Scottish to illegally stop the attack and the resulting penalty found touch. Charlie Clare picked out his man in the lineout and Bedford inched forward before Taylor picked out Flanagan who side-stepped brilliantly before diving over the line with Sharp converting to make it 12-0.

Move forward five minutes and it was much of the same again as Fenton-Wells scored his first of the afternoon. London Scottish’s ill-discipline saw another penalty go Bedford’s way and Sharp chipped the ball into touch. With the maul in full flow, the Captain saw a gap and broke free to cross with the conversion going over the uprights again.

Things weren’t going London Scottish’s way and when they did get a penalty which Peter Lydon sent to touch, the lineout was overthrown and Bedford were able to clear once Josh Buggea had collected the ball.

The Blues thought that they were over for their fourth in the 32nd minute when Piers O’Conor and George Perkins linked up superbly before Taylor burrowed his way over the line. All thought he had grounded the ball, but the ref made full use of TMO Rowan Kitt who disagreed and a five metre scrum was awarded.

Mr Kitt was back in action two minutes later when the Blues piled over from a driving maul but again they were denied and sent back to the drawing board.

Thankfully, the Blues are pretty quick drawers and got the all important fourth try a minute later. Taylor went quick as yet another penalty went Bedford’s way before Sharp timed his pass perfectly for Le Bourgeois to latch onto and canter over the line with Sharp adding the extras.

There was time for a London Scottish try though and it came in the 39th minute when Hughes intercepted a Sharp pass and turned on the gas to race clear and dot down by the posts with Lydon adding the extras.

But the Exiles almost shot themselves in the foot as the half came to an end. Despite the referee instructing that there were 15 seconds on the clock, scrum half George Horne casually kicked the ball to touch and gifted the Blues a lineout in the Scottish 22. The ball zipped down the line but with an overlap on the cards, the final pass intended for Perkins was just behind the winger and the chance went begging.

London Scottish appeared to have received a firm ticking off at the break and they came back with renewed vigour as they looked to turn the 26-7 score line around.  The visitors enjoyed early possession but the Blues soaked it all up then countered with a quick penalty which was run up field and into the opposition’s 22. A penalty followed which Sharp dinked into the corner before Fenton-Wells powered over from the resulting maul to make it 31-7.

Bedford’s penalty count went up in the second half and the visitors were able to take advantage and pin the Blues back into their own 22. A lineout resulted in a strong driving maul which saw Chris Walker coming up with the ball but Lydon couldn’t convert.

Bedford lost Howard to an injury in the 59th minute, but the old head of Paul Tupai ensured that the Blues defence stayed firm as they neutralised a barrage of London Scottish attacks while the down pouring of rain did little to help either side.
 
With 80 minutes fast approaching, the Exiles mounted a final attack as they inched their way towards the try line. Bedford did all they could to prevent the score and it looked as if a knock on had occurred before the ref consulted Mr Kitt once again with the outcome being a penalty try and a yellow card for Le Bourgeois.

It mattered not though as the game ended soon afterwards as the Exiles went in hunt of a fourth try but threw a forward pass in the build up and the final whistle blew.

So Happy New Year Bedford Blues fans – enjoy a weekend off before we head over to Belfast to take on Ulster Ravens in the British & Irish Cup on Friday 15th January.

Next Home Match

Friday 24th November
1st XV Championship
Goldington Road
Kick-Off
7.45pm

Partners

Photography

See more pictures courtesy of Nigel Rudgard at

frontrow.photium.com