Bedford Blues v Rotherham Titans
There was to be no delight in front of the Sky Sports cameras as they went down 12-33 to Rotherham Titans in the unusual 5pm kick off slot on Saturday evening. The match will mostly be remembered for four yellow cards – three of them decided by TMO Graham Hughes – rather than the rugby but the Blues will be kicking themselves for leaving a whole host of tries out on the field. Accidental offside and handling errors ultimately cost Bedford three scoring chances whereas Rotherham crossed the white three times to seal the win.
The action was quick from the start and there were many pleasing aspects to the Blues performance. The scrum was on top form and caused the visitors – always respected for their front eight – no ends of problems and picked up numerous penalties throughout the game. Sadly, a missed tackle allowed hooker Tom Cruse to go through from close range and many could have been forgiven for thinking it would be Mission Impossible from there (sorry). Juan Pablo Socino added the extras and the visitors led 0-7.
James Pritchard converted a penalty for the Blues in the 11th minute after the Blues pounced on a Rotherham ruck forcing the tackled man to hang on. Patrick Tapley then had the crowd on their feet as he went on a 40 metre run but the move burned out a few phases later.
Socino struck a penalty of his own on in the 17th minute and then the first yellow card of the day was shown. Rotherham were running some good lines but Mike Le Bourgeois brought it to a shuddering halt but in taking the player of the ground and turning him in the tackle the TMO judged it to be a tip tackle and Booj was binned for ten minutes and Socino slotted the three points to make it 3-13.
Pritchard missed a penalty two minutes later but Bedford fought well with 14 men and didn’t concede any more points while Booj had a rest. Jake Sharp showed some blistering pace when a gap presented itself but as he offloaded the pass was knocked on a try scoring opportunity went begging.
Bedford continued to perform well at the ruck and as they inched towards Roth’s try line a score looked almost inevitable but as a final push came, a Blues man ran straight into his own player and gave the Titans the chance to clear.
In the 31st minute, Pritchadr was presented with another kickable penalty and he made no mistakes to make the score 6-13 but moments later there was controversy at Goldington Road.
Bedford were putting pressure on Rotherham as they defended their own ruck and as Sharp came in to help out the forwards it looked as if Rotherham lock Dan Sanderson sent a punch in the fly half’s direction. The ref blew up immediately, Sharp received treatment for a gash above his right eye, but the TMO said that contact was made with an open hand and Sanderson received a yellow card – something that would come back to haunt Bedford later.
Bedford continued to attack Rotherham with the man advantage and they received an extra boost when Cruse was given a yellow card for collapsing a maul on the stroke of half time. Pritchard converted the penalty and the half ended 9-13.
Bedford were unable to make the two extra men count after the break and Socino extended the visitors lead with a 45th minute penalty before Pritchard replied with one of his own two minutes later. Socino again inched Rotherham ahead with his fourth penalty of the afternoon.
The visitors continued to attack when they could and as they pressed into Bedford’s 22 they began using their forwards to great effect to gain more territory. Scrum half Charlie Mulchrone spotted a gap and made space before the ball came to Ali Birch to score with Socino converting.
Rotherham then benefitted from the TMO when he pulled play back to an incident that happened in a ruck which went unnoticed. After a short delay while the video was looked at again by Mr Hughes, Nick Fenton-Wells was shown a yellow card for a tip tackle.
Roth made the extra man count with a wave of attacks. With two men over on the wing they should have scored an easy try but the final pass went between the pair of attackers. The try did come though in the 69th minute and it was Sanderson who went over the whitewash, much to the annoyance of the Blues faithful who thought he perhaps shouldn’t have been on the pitch, and Socino added the extras to make it 12-33.
Both teams continued to look for a further score and Bedford again had a great break late on but the final product just wasn’t there.
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