Bedford Blues v Old Albanians
Blues overcome Old Albanians challenge - Times & Citizen:
Bedford got their pre-season underway tonight by putting six tries past visitors Old Albanians, as over 1,100 saw the Blues run out comfortable 40-5 winners.
A set of braces from number eight Joe Vandermolen and trialist Steve Ellis, on top of scores from James Currie and Paul Tupai ensured a solid performance at Goldington Road.
Old Albanians kicked off the evening game and the visitors took the initiative by seizing on some poor discipline by the Blues, as they nearly got in early through prop Brett McNamee but were let down by a forward pass.
Albanians came again after capitalising on some poor Blues ball control but Ellis put in a big hit to keep get a turnover and reclaim possession.
It was a shaky start from the Blues but 16 minutes in, a good kick into the corner from fly-half Steffan Jones saw Bedford put some pressure back onto their guests.
After a bodged lineout, Currie had the strength to barrel over for the first score and Mike LeBourgeois easily bagged the conversion.
Bedford didn’t let off the gas either, from the restart they kicked the ball straight at Andy Holloway’s side and Jones chased down well, Albanians scrambled though and got back into it briefly.
The reason Albanians were coming back into was down to the Blues poor discipline, but what they lacked in that, they had in vision, as Steve Ellis intercepted superbly and got the second try on 23 minutes to make it 12-0.
Moments later Bedford got another, off the back of a good driving scrum, Vandermolen gathered and bolted over to get his name on the score list; Jones added the extras to put the Blues on 19.
On the half hour mark after some Albanians substitutions, Blues made good territory off the back of a scrum as Peter White delivered well out to the backs.
Le Bourgeois managed to get right into the scoreboard corner and after a strong driving maul, captain for the match, Paul Tupai was able to touch down and Jones made a tricky conversion to put the Blues even further ahead.
As the half came to a close, Bedford looked to add to the tally after a cheeky intercept in Albanian territory, fullback Jim Wigglesworth seemed to get clear but there was a forward throw somewhere in the build-up and the half ended with the score at 26-0.
The interval saw the Blues switch around their front row and the whole pack came out all guns blazing, Jones sent a cheeky dink over the visitors defence and came within inches of a score but Alabanians managed to scramble.
The scrum was Bedford’s though and Vandermolen made short work of getting his second score, Jones embellished and took the score to 33-0.
The Blues were keeping up there pressure on the visitors and throwing some big tackles around through the likes of Tupai, the physicality of the match was showing as both sides made several replacements.
Referee Rob Warburton got serious on 53 minutes after he showed former Blue Jon Phillips a yellow for pulling a maul down, taking the visitors down to 14.
Blues wasted no time of the man advantage by working the next lineout and feeding Ellis at pace for his second, sharp notched the two to put the Blues on 40.
At the hour mark more replacements ensued as legs got tired, Blues were still dominant but the visitors weren’t giving up, as Bedford were making lots of slip ups and the likes of Nick Foster and Billy Johnson didn’t fail to give up the chase.
They got their desserts on 71 minutes as Sam Lunnon seized on a ball to run in down the right, the difference in class was evident though as Elliot Reeder fluffed his conversion.
Then Albanians came again through Ross Hamilton, this time though James Pritchard was switched on and managed to split up a pass.
With five minutes left on the clock, Albanians had blues 20 yards in front of the sticks and after a poor put in by Keiran Duffin at the scrum, they broke for the whitewash.
Bedford managed to play their way out briefly but Albanians kept coming to try and salvage some pride, Rowell Gordon tried hitting a gap through the Bedford defence but to no avail.
After a good lineout by Albanians, the visiting pack tried a line break but again Pritchard was able to intercept a pass and the game wrapped up, final score 40-5.
Bedford: Camillo Parilli-Ocampo (Jack Culverhouse, 50), Charlie Clare (TJ Harris, 40), James Currie (Tom Williams, 40), Paul Tupai, Brad Scharf (Phil Boulton, 65), Kennet O’Neil, Josh Buggea (Justin Blanchet, 50), Joe Vandermolen (Nick Fenton-Wells, 63), Peter White (Kieran Duffin, 50), Steffan Jones (Jake Sharp, 60), Dean Adamson, Steven Ellis (Ollie Dodge, 63), Mike Le Bourgeois (Henry Staff, 52), Pat Tapley (James Pritchard, 60), Jim Wigglesworth. T: James Currie, Steve Ellis 2, Joe Vandermolen 2, Paul Tupai. C: Mike LeBourgeois, Steffan Jones 3, Jake Sharp.
Old Albanians: Charlie Hughes (George Warner, 30 (Mike Cade, 60)), Brett McNamee (Jimmy Spiers, 60), Andy Berry (Rob Scillachi, 57), Jon Phillips, Ross Hamilton, (Rowell Gordon, 45), Sam Lunnon, Nick Stevens, Billy Johnson, Jordi Pasqualin, Will Magie, Matt Deane, Elliot Reeder (Dan Watt, 45), Dom Regan, Chris May (Jack Daly, 40), Richard Gregg (Nick Foster, 64). T: Sam Lunnon.
Referee: Rob Warburton
Assistant Referee’s: Lionel Spooner, Phil Watters
Six home tries in opening friendly victory - Beds on Sunday:
Trialist Steven Ellis grabbed his chance to impress with both hands by scoring twice as the Bedford Blues ran out comfortable winners in their pre-season friendly against Old Albanians.
Ellis, who played in London One North for Luton last season, was one of several new faces introduced to the Goldington Road faithful in what has been a summer of upheaval on the pitch.
It took the Blues around 20 minutes to shake off a few cobwebs but once they did, they played some very good rugby in racking up six tries against their opponents from National League One.
The visitors may have been outclassed but they gave Mike Rayer's men just the competitive run-out they needed as they began the long road to putting the disappointment of the last campaign right.
Bedford started with six of their summer signings in their starting line-up along with trialists Ellis and Peter White, who began at inside centre and scrum-half respectively.
There was also a blast from the past for the Blues' fans as former lock Jon Phillips lined up against them for Old Albanians one day short of his 42nd birthday.
The match got off to a scrappy start as both sides made errors in their efforts to get back into their routine with a surprising amount of knock-ons for a dry night.
The Blues were to make the breakthrough after 21 minutes when, after captain Paul Tupai was tackled just short of the line, White found prop James Currie, who burrowed in under the posts.
Soon after that Ellis made his mark, although his try came gift-wrapped courtesy of visiting fly-half Will Magie, whose pass to the left wing was comfortably picked off and it was an easy run to the line.
The hosts were starting to hit their stride now and they scored for a third time after half an hour when their pack won a scrum against the head on OA's ten-metre line.
Their power allowed Joe Vandermolen to go through a gaping hole to score between the sticks with new fly-half Steffan Jones given an easy conversion.
The pack proved to be too much for their opponents again when a driving maul following an attacking line-out bulldozed its way over with none other than Tupai grounding the ball.
Jim Wigglesworth then thought he had added himself to the list of scorers but he was to be denied as Jones' pass to him was judged forward.
Bedford and their forwards picked up where they left off five minutes into the second half when a five-metre scrum rumbled over the line with Vandermolen claiming his second try of the game.
Phillips was then cruelly sin-binned as the referee failed to get into the spirit of pre-season and the Blues soon made the most of their man advantage.
Replacement scrum-half Kieran Duffin quickly tapped a penalty before giving the ball for Ellis to go over from close range with Jake Sharp kicking his first points of the night to convert.
The inevitable raft of replacements not surprisingly hurt the flow of the game although we were treated to the unprecedented sight of Phil Boulton packing down in the second row.
Old Albanians got themselves onto the scoreboard with eight minutes left when flanker Sam Lunnon picked up a loose ball to jog in down the right wing.
Nick Fenton-Wells hails 'exceptional effort' as new look side cruise to friendly win - Beds on Sunday:
New captain Nick Fenton-Wells says the players left over from last season are determined to rectify the disappointment of the previous campaign.
Fenton-Wells was speaking after the Blues comfortably won their first pre-season friendly 40-5 against Old Albanians, where Joe Vandermolen and trailist Steven Ellis both scored two tries.
The South African signed permanently during the summer from Saracens following his previous loan - one of a host of new players brought in by director of rugby Mike Rayer.
The Blues' new-look squad are desperate to improve on last season's ninth-place finish - the lowest in Rayer's nine years at the club.
Fenton-Wells said: "I think throughout the last ten years of Bedford's history they've always been challenging at least for the top six if not the top four.
"This club is full of heritage and we want to do the fans proud as they come out every week to support us.
"There are so many people who have worn this jersey and it means so much to us and it means so much to them so the least we can do is rectify last season and put it right this year.
"I'm humbled by the opportunity to captain this club and I wasn't expecting it - if you would have told me in the middle of last season that I was going to be club captain I would have laughed at you."
Bedford have two friendlies remaining before the real action starts as they first travel to Ealing before Premiership giants Saracens visit Goldington Road
It took the Blues about 20 minutes for them to shake of any ring rust in the first run-out but they produced some impressive rugby either side of half-time as they ran in six tries.
Fenton-Wells said: "I was very impressed because I thought the guys did really well.
"If you look at it from the outside, we had a group of boys who had never played together so it was an exceptional effort out there and everybody worked really hard.
"It fell away a little for the last ten minutes but we had made so many changes by that point and it just disrupted things a bit.
"It was definitely a case of getting the first wind out of us but when that second wind came the guys got stuck in and did really well."