Bedford Blues v Nottingham
A couple of years ago a downpour of rain would have almost certainly put the mockers on any chance of the Blues picking up a victory but on Saturday afternoon they demonstrated exactly how to use the weather to their advantage as they came from behind to beat Nottingham 14-9.
Bedford’s kit man – and President – will have quite a job on his hands to get the jerseys sparkling clean in time for next Sunday’s trip to Leeds but I’m sure he won’t mind after the entire squad put in a hell of a shift to earn a very hard fought win.
Nottingham – who pinched the win at Meadow Lane earlier in the season with a late penalty – were an extremely stern test for the Blues and their pack dominated proceeding early on as the visitors claimed the majority of possession and territory.
Fly half Matt Jarvis gave the Green and Whites a 0-3 lead in the eighth minute when the Blues failed to release a tackle. Nottingham were really piling on the pressure, but the Blues held firm and slowly started coming back into the game but were never able to really put pressure on the visitors defence.
Jarvis missed a penalty attempt in the 16th minute but the Green and Whites continued to dominate key areas of the game and were rewarded with a penalty late in the half which Jarvis converted. Goldington Road finally burst into life soon afterwards when Joe Vandermolen collected the ball and made 30 metres but the Blues couldn’t capitalise. James Pritchard got the scoreboard rolling for the Blues just before the interval and his penalty made it 3-6 as the half time.
The next 20 minutes were horrendous. A small shower had arrived as the half ended but as soon as the players were off the field the heavens opened. Rain, hail, thunder, lightning – just what was needed...
After a short delay the game restarted with Bedford having the slope and breeze on their side. Pritchard levelled the score with a delicately kicked penalty after Alex Shaw had been sin binned for the visitors after blocking the Bedford skipper’s attempt of recollecting his kick through.
The man advantage paid dividends seven minutes later when the Blues had a penalty deep in Nottingham’s 22. A good shove set the attacking platform before Vandermolen – who picked up the man of the match award – burst over the line to score but Pritchard couldn’t add the extras.
The rain continued to pour and Bedford set about playing an intelligent kicking game which pinned Nottingham back and also saw several knock-ons go the Blues way. Pritchard added a third penalty of the afternoon on 60 minutes before Jarvis replied eight minutes later to keep Nottingham within touch distance at 14-9.
Bedford were enjoying the territorial advantage but as the clock ticked down the Blues were under the cosh as Nottingham went on the offensive. Lineout ball was collected well and the visitors looked to put the ball up their jumper and march forward but Bedford did superbly to disrupt the pack and force the advancing maul into touch.
Heart-in-mouth time followed though as the resulting lineout went astray and Nottingham had one final opportunity to attack. Alun Walker pounced on the loose ball and made his way into Bedford’s 22, but as the ball was recycled down the left wing, Sacha Harding and Nico Steenkamp combined to put in a huge hit to dislodge the ball which allowed Patrick Tapley to send it into touch and the Blues had their second home victory of 2014.
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