Bedford Blues v Munster A

Saturday, 16 December, 2017 - 15:00
1st XV Cup
Lost 12-16

There was to be very little Christmas cheer at Goldington Road on Saturday afternoon as Munster ‘A’ gate crashed the party with a 12-16 win in the British & Irish Cup.

A week after the Blues had defeated the Irish outfit in Cork, the men in red put in a solid defensive display and finished their chances to keep the Pool wide open with two games left to play.

Bedford did cross the whitewash twice with good scores from Dean Adamson and Camilo Parilli-Ocampo, but a try from prop Ciaran Parker and the boot of Bill Johnston ensured that Munster ‘A’ returned home happy.

Speaking after the game, Blues flanker Josh Buggea said: “We had momentum going into the game and were full of confidence, but on the day Munster were the better team and beat us up physically. They had a game plan that worked really well and you have to give credit where it’s due.

“We need to go away and look at our physicality before going back to the Championship next week. London Scottish is always a really tough place to go, but we need to focus on ourselves and ensure that we put the wrongs right from this weekend.”

The game started with both teams looking for territory but it was the visitors who got the scoreboard rolling when the Blues were pinged for tackle in the maul and fly half Bill Johnston chipped the points.

Just like last week, Munster applied length of pressure and found themselves 0-10 ahead when prop Ciaran Parker was on hand to drive over the line from close range following a series of pick and go attempts with Johnston adding the extras.

A penalty went Bedford’s way in ninth minute which Will Hooley sent to Munster’s 22 and it led to a good Blues attack with Mike Le Bourgeois, Rich Lane, Tom Lindsay and Huw Worthington all carrying before another penalty came Bedford’s way. Touch found again, but Munster defended well Blues earned a scrum. Despite 11 phases of attack, there was no way through and Munster turned the ball over to clear.

The Blues were lucky not to fall further behind in the 21st minute as the visitors went through a superb series of phases before creating a two on one situation down the left wing only for Stephen Fitzgerald to spill the ball with a clear run ahead of him.

Despite the missed opportunity, Munster were certainly controlling territory as well as enjoying the lion’s share of possession and they got a morale boost in the pack when they picked up a 31st minute penalty at the scrum which got back slaps all around.

Bedford had chances to come back into things as the half wore on, but the well drilled Munster defence stood firm even when confronted with a late lineout maul that looked destined for a score only to be swatted away.

The second half started much like the first with Munster on the attack as former Plymouth and Rotherham Number Eight Robin Copeland went on a mazing run after taking the restart and made it up to halfway before he was brought down by Jordan Burns in try David vs Goliath fashion.

Munster continued to push on though, and they got their reward in the 47th minute when Bedford were caught offside and Johnston slotted a second penalty to make it 0-13.

Bedford made changes with Dave Spelman, Huw Worthington and Paul Tupai - who was making his 250th Blues appearance - making way for Ben Cooper, Jarad Williams and Alex Rae respectively.

Again though, it was Munster who took the initiative with a fine break from flanker Gavin Coombes who made excellent ground down the right wing before popping the ball to the supporting John Poland, but it slipped from his grasp and let the Blues off the hook.

Bedford responded in the best possible fashion and went up the other end to score their opening try of the afternoon. Following a good lineout take by Rae, the Blues started to go through phases with Ollie Dodge, Ryan Hutler, Sean McCarthy and new dad, Jordan Onojaife all crashing forward in an attempt to break the gain line. Soon, an opportunity arose to spread the ball out wide and Dean Adamson danced his way over the line to make it 5-13.

Back came Munster and they gratefully received the Blues present of a cheap penalty in the 62nd minute as Bedford failed to release the ball and Johnston sent it through the uprights to put his team 11 points ahead.

Bedford continued to try and find a chink in the Munster defensive armour, but none could be found until deep into stoppage time.

Lee Dickson and Harry Sheppard were directing traffic with Hooley and Burns - who’d moved to the wing - making decent ground before the forwards piled in. Jarad Williams, Rae and Will Carrick-Smith were in the heart of things when the ref blew to award the home side a penalty which Hooley sent to touch. A lineout drive followed but it was chopped down so another penalty. Same again. Lineout, drive, sacked. The ref became impatient and a yellow card was shown to Munster’s Evan Mintern. Ball to touch again and the lineout drive was on, but Munster disrupted it perfectly and Bedford switched to plan B. Jacob Fields, Ben Cooper and Williams all came close before Camilo Parilli-Ocampo burrowed over from close range and Hooley slotted the extras to ensure the Blues took a losing bonus point from the game.

Bedford return to league action next weekend with a trip to London Scottish before returning to Goldington Road on Saturday 30th December as they face Ealing Trailfinders.


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